Boy, is this ironic. My editorial calendar calls for a post about le mot juste—“the right word” in French—and I’m clutching…
I’m a copywriter by trade, and I know that even professionals sometimes struggle to get the right word out of our heads and dancing merrily across the page to join its fellows. Mind maps, brainstorming, and outlines all help, of course, because they allow us to do so much thinking before we put pen to paper. Often the words are right there, leaping like trout. Still, there are days when they don’t come easily at all.
Most of us probably think about writers of literature when we think about the struggle of writing. We visualize endlessly blank white sheets of paper on a desk or crumpled up wads of parchment lying around the base of a wastebasket, tossed there in utter frustration. We imagine the sighs of the tormented creative. At those points, writing seems not to be a very glamorous endeavor.
Yet those who make their living writing for others have some of the same experience. We want what we write to convey the message our clients are too busy to write or feel they are insufficiently skilled to express. If we care about what we do, we never phone it in. Instead, like Jack London, we sit at our desks until the words come. And when we’re done, we arise, stretch, and send our work out to meet the public.