Writing is a sweaty business

Allison Tait blog
Posted on January 17, 2012

I’m sweating. Metaphoric sweat, but sweat none-the-less. It’s beading on my forehead and running in little rivers down my sides. Wondering if I’ll be able to finish this book.

I have some changes to make on the manuscript for my novel. I have notes from my editor. Suggestions. Most of them are of the forehead-smacking ‘of course! you’re right!’ variety. Some are surprising. All of them require more. More from me. They require me to dig deeper, go harder, dive, dive, dive. I need to move things around, change things up. Wade back into that sea of words.

So far I have done a lot of thinking. A lot of note writing. A lot of sweating. When the boys go back to school, I will do a lot of writing. And more sweating.

I’m worried that I’m not up to the challenge. I go to bookshops and run my fingers along the shelves. All of those clever people with their witty turns of phrase and their convoluted plot lines. Can I do this? Really? Who do I think I am?

I am lucky. I have a husband who knows me well. “Can I do this?” I ask. “You did it in the first place,” he says. “Of course you can.”

I have friends who write books. I call them. “Can I do this?” They tell me that everyone feels this way (good news). With every book (not so good news – this novelist thing is not for the fainthearted).

I will do it. I did not come this far to turn back now.



    YES YOU CAN. I have been thoroughly enjoying your blog lately, and I can’t wait to read you novel. i love the way you write.

  2. tinsenpup

    It must be hard to re-engage with something you’ve written after you’ve finished with it and let it go, but my faith is unwavering. You’ll get through it. My mantra for today is “slow and steady”, so I’ll share it with you in hopes it will help.

  3. Diminishing Lucy

    You know you can. Visualise it once it’s done and you can mop your brow.


  4. Patrick Ross

    Ah yes, when we struggle with motivation it’s sweat, when we’re rolling its glow! I’m where you are right now (just blogged on it, in fact). Hang in there!

  5. Megan Blandford

    Remember all that advice you gave me? That straight talking? Listen to that for yourself now! You CAN do it 🙂

  6. bigwords is...

    You can do it! How boring would it be if it came too easy. xx

  7. Anna @ green tea n toast

    Great post. I’m only just starting out on this journey towards being published, so it’s good to hear that feelings of ‘can I do this?’ are normal. Looking forward to reading your novel once it’s on the shelves.

  8. Lisa H

    Alison, I only ‘know’ you through your blog, and i don’t know much about writing a novel (but I’ve read many) and I agree with your husband. Of course you can! If your writing on your blog is anything to go by I’m sure your book will be a page turner, and I’ll be lining up to buy it.

  9. Kelly Exeter

    It’s often heartening to hear that people we admire greatly are inflicted with the same level of doubt and questioning as ourselves 🙂

    I know from a design point of view, when you get feedback – even if it is of the forehead-smacking variety – it is really hard and a little heartbreaking to go back and make changes to something you thought was already pretty bloody good. But once it is done, and you look at the final result you just think “YEAH!”

    I look forward to your “YEAH!!” post 🙂

  10. Donna

    I have no doubt you can do it – you are a superb writer! Coming as far as you already have is evidence of that x

    PS Cant wait for f/b chat!

  11. Nat - Muddy Farmwife

    Of course you can do this. You have a wonderful turn of phrase. Self doubt is all part of the creative process and in some ways helps to make us stronger. Think how fantastic it’s going to feel when you’re in the bookshop and run your fingers along the shelves and over your own book.
    Looking forward to reading it when it’s done.

  12. Kim H

    You can do it, Al!! This is the crap bit – all the editing and changing, just when you think you’re done. That’s writing huh? I wish we could skip that bit;) Can’t wait to read your book. I’;m soooo excited for you. woo hoo!

  13. Jill in a Box

    All the writers I know say this too. Many don’t say it publicly though, so thank you for saying it out loud. And all the best with editing your novel! (I feel sympathy sweat forming!)

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