One thing that I’ve noticed everyone does at some point in time is downplay other peoples’ jobs as “so much easier” than their own job, even if the job in question is something that person has never had to actually do before. For example, I’ve heard tons of people talk about how easy working at a call center is. “It’s just talking on the damn phone!” they say. But they’ve never worked such a job, and they have no concept of the psychological beating a person can take when being screamed at and/or hung up on all day. Hire someone to follow you around for a day, screaming obscenities and telling you what a worthless piece of crap you are, and you’ll get an idea of what quite a few call center attendants go through. And despite that, people still look at you like you’re crazy if you come home from a shift at the call center and start talking about what a hard day you’ve had.
This phenomenon is not only subjected to those who work in what we tend to think of as the “lowlier” types of jobs. I once had an electrician tell me that there’s “nothing to your job” (instrumentation technician) because it’s “just a little air”. For the record, the “little air” I was dealing with at the time was approximately 60 psi and was being applied to the movement of an industrial rotary valve. In other words, if used improperly, that “little air” could have resulted in my arm getting chopped clean off.
The fact is, we humans have a habit of bolstering the difficulty and importance of the things we do and assuming that the things other people do are simple and insignificant.
I think this might be one of the most frustrating issues plaguing writers and people who want to become writers. People who don’t write seem to think it’s one of the easiest things in the world to do, that it takes no time at all, and that the words just spill out in perfect format with no need to ever look at them again, never mind edit them. And as with my other examples, those people are ridiculously, laughably wrong.
Case in point: my 1000-words-a-day idea. I chose 1000 words because, based on the past few months of writing, I’ve established that 1000 words a day is a reasonable, challenging-but-doable amount. It can be difficult to squeeze those 1000 words in around dealing with the baby, cooking and cleaning, running errands, and all that other daily nonsense, but if I put my mind to it I can manage it. So let us assume for a moment that I accomplish my goal and manage to write precisely 1000 words every day. Someone who doesn’t write probably thinks that sounds great…I’ll have a novel published in no time! But hold up for just a moment…how long is a novel exactly? Well, for example, the first Harry Potter book is 76,944 words. That means if I based my own book off that one and wrote my 1000 words a day, it would take me approximately 77 days to write my novel. That, my friends-who-don’t-write, is before I look back and see all the mistakes I made, the plot-holes I created, the scenes I previously-thought-were-awesome-and-suddenly-realize-are-utter-crap, and so on and so on. Writing a novel is only half the battle (in fact, it might be more like 25% of the battle). The real pain-in-the-ass comes from trying to make the novel good by making sure your wording is correct, your sentence structure readable, and your overall story likeable. And that is a lot harder, and takes a lot more time, than it sounds.
What I guess I’m getting at is, before you assume that someone is complaining for the sake of complaining, or having a hard time at something because they’re just not trying hard enough, put yourself in their shoes and actually try what they’re doing. Write a story, deal with the editing process, and get that sucker published, and then you can turn around and tell me how easy you thought it all was.