Problem solving is what I do. It’s what my activity is, all day, sometimes a sentence, sometimes a whole book. My satisfactions come from solving those problems. It’s work, just endless work. – Philip Roth
One night, about ten years ago, I wrote a short novel. Yes, I wrote it in one night. I began at about four o’clock in the afternoon and I finished up at about ten o’clock the next morning. It was almost 40,000 words. The words just flowed like water.
About once a year I read through that novel and try to think of a way to make it work. It has action and romance and what I consider to be a very interesting lead character, but it just doesn’t feel right by the time I get to the end. I still haven’t found a way to turn that novel into something I want to publish, but I will keep trying.
My point is that there are moments of brilliance when you write, but for the most part it is a lot of hard work. Some poems come perfectly written the first time. Others take a lot of work to shape up. There are some that just never feel right. Articles can be easier because your goals seem more modest, but there is still a big leap between good writing and great writing. That leap, for the most part, is hard work and the ability to solve problems.
I still don’t think I am a good enough editor to be a truly great writer, but I am working on it.