It might seem strange and elementary, but although I’ve seen that sentence numerous times, I’ve never understood it.
My first thoughts when I hear the terms “hard work” are of unpleasantness, discomfort and extreme effort. Struggle. Forcing oneself to go beyond what is comfortable. Misery followed by exhaustion.
In regards to writing, hard work could be long hours, tedious revision, self discipline to the point of unhappiness.
But I know you wouldn’t spend hours of your life choosing to do something that makes you miserable.
Recently, a piano student of mine played a new piece for me. She played it beautifully the first time through. “That was hard,” she said. I laughed, because from my viewpoint it seemed effortless.
And I got it. “Writing is hard” is about the level of attention focused on the creation, on the puzzle, and has nothing to do with misery. It might be more accurate to say, that generally speaking, “good writing is hard work and bad writing is easy.”
To my ear, that sounds a bit simplistic but I also think that this knowledge will aid in my becoming a consistently better writer.