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Writing is hard

Posted by Robin Abrahams  March 28, 2013 12:31 PM

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I say "Writing is hard" not to vent my own frustrations, but to alleviate yours.

It's not you.

I wrote a book review this week, and I haven't written an actual book review in ages, and it was difficult. I spent 20 minutes tinkering with the first paragraph before realizing that what I actually had to say started in the second paragraph and the first one should have been cut. That's a rookie's mistake.

Because writing an advice column and editing business books and cases and blogging about the theater of everyday life isn't writing a book review. And I was out of practice and it showed. That's so annoying! It's like how you can work out at the gym four days a week and still, snow shoveling or spring cleaning leaves you sore in all these weird places. Looks like you did have some muscles you weren't using, after all.

And my book-review muscles were all stiff and unused, and it took a while to limber them up.

Americans, more than people of many other nations, believe in individual, innate talent. We believe in "good writers," "good athletes," people who are "good at math." Which can lead people, when they fail or plateau, to assume that they haven't got what it takes.

So, just a reminder: It's normal. Nobody's first drafts look good. Dancers look pretty silly when they're learning a new dance. And even Harvard mathematicians have a hard time dividing a restaurant tab.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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