Out-of-Genre Difficulty

I’ve been writing of business-type articles lately. This is not what I imagined when I dreamed of being a writer, and it’s also not my favorite kind of writing to do. I often dread it. I will more than likely put these pieces off till the last minute. Let’s get down to brass tacks: I’m a personal essayist and an aspiring/working novelist who says on her podcast that she doesn’t give advice — what business do I have writing about business? It’s not my best writing, I’m completely out of my element, and I look forward to being done with every piece as soon as I agree to take one on.

So why keep it up? Why actively pitch to multiple — not just one, but multiple — websites that feature business advice? Why put myself through this rigmarole time and time again?

One word: Hemingway.

“Newspaper work will not harm a young writer and could help him if he gets out of it in time.”

Hemingway worked for the The Kansas City Star for a few months after high school, and it has been said that he learned his economical style from newspaper work, when a story must fill a certain number of inches, no more, no less. Of course he got out, went to war, and went on to write The Sun Also Rises, the first of his ten novels — but this bit of wisdom survived alongside all the great works.

Today, as I sit in fear of my approaching deadline for a piece on brand-new businesses, this quotation does not give me inspiration, eagerness to write, or faith in my abilities to write something of both substance and quality, but it does show me what worth can be found in such work. Writing about my experiences in entrepreneurship cannot harm my young writing, and I believe it will help me — but how?

Following in Ernest’s footsteps, it teaches me about economy — people want their wisdom in shots instead of pints. I am a long-form writer who doesn’t believe in word counts, who encourages expansion rather than contraction, but that can lead to over-embellished repetitive prose. Why waste space and my readers’ time with something that could be said in a paragraph instead of a page?

Apart from that, these pieces have taught me how to struggle with writing, how to work in consecutive drafts, how to approach something that doesn’t come easily — I’ve always written about the personal without fear of opening up and sharing my darkest and brightest bits with anyone who cares to read them. But writing information, advice, helpful how-to’s. . .not my forte. I can’t rely on good first drafts, on a voice I’ve been using since middle and high school, on my laurels and ease and comfort zone.

I won’t. I’ll fight with every piece, and half despise it and myself for agreeing to write it, and procrastinate until I’m chain smoking, chugging coffee, and cursing — but I’ll keep writing them because there’s inherent worth in doing what you hate, in doing what’s hard until it isn’t anymore, and taking the lessons with you to whatever your pet project may be. So I’ll take this with me to my novel, and to my essays, and to my editing, with these words in mind:

It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.

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