How would you construct a negative metaphor about writing?

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Dr. Samuel Johnson was one of the most famous and most prolific English authors. Here is something he had to say about his own profession:

Composition is, for the most part, an effort of slow diligence and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to more delightful amusements.

Johnson had a rather complex literary style, but what he says about writing is a truth which we have all learned by experience. Composition--that is, writing--is hard work and something we only do if we have to or if we force ourselves to do it. It is especially hard because it is hard to stay focused on a single subject. The human mind is always being distracted by competing thoughts, wishes, fantasies, memories, and free associations--as James Joyce demonstrated so effectively with the interior monologues of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom in his novel Ulysses.

Why do writers write? Maybe you could say, "Writing is masochism."

The great French writer Gustav Flaubert, author of the novel Madame Bovary, once said:

"A writer's life is a dog's life, but it is the only life worth living."

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Metaphor - a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to a person, idea, or object to which it is not literally applicable. It is an implied analogy or unstated comparison which imaginatively identifies one thing with another.

The kind of metaphor you have in mind fits the second sentence in this definition, comparing one thing in terms of another. The success of this kind of extended metaphor depends upon finding the thing that you do not like or do not like to do; therefore, my example of comparing writing to exercising may not work for you. 

One good way to start this kind of exercise is to think of all the things I find unpleasant about exercising.

Consider the following few ideas:

  • Exercising is painful 
  • Exercising is too time-consuming
  • Exercise is awkward at first

When I write these ideas into an extended metaphor, it might sound something like this:

Writing is exercising. It stretches me in ways I do not like to be stretched. Writing, like exercising, is time-consuming and uncomfortable, and I'm not very good at it. If I practiced, I could probably get better at it and would not find it quite so difficult; however, I do not really want to do that. I would rather do just about anything than exercise; but the more I exercise the better I get at it, which is also true about writing.

You will have to find the right thing for yourself in order for your metaphor to really work. Perhaps you don't like cleaning your room, doing yardwork, washing dishes, ironing, playing an instrument, or shopping. Anything will work as long as you can dissect the activity or chore into parts.

If you're still struggling, try listing all the things you dislike about writing and find something else that shares those characteristics. 

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