"Writing is the hardest work in the world not involving heavy lifting." -- Peter Hamill
Okay, I'll admit that when I read this, I laughed and thought, "Yes!" On second thought, though, it's not really true. I mean, being a social worker seems like a lot harder work, and they're not digging ditches, either (although some of their files are pretty thick, I'm sure). Or being a brain surgeon, or a nurse. These people and others like them make life and death decisions every day. What's the most harm I can do? Split an infinitive? Have an unsympathetic heroine?
On the other hand, I understand why writers come up with these one-liners. It's not really that writing is that much more difficult than several other occupations; it's because, to the non-writer, writing looks really easy. We sit down, type and voila! A book! And we get money! If we're Truman Capote, we even go to a villa in sunny Spain to finish a book (believe you me, my family heard about that a lot, as in, "That's what I need to do, doncha think??").
But it's not that easy, or all those people who think "I'd like to be a writer" would be writers. Writing can be mentally exhausting, depressing (how would you feel if you got a lousy performance evaluation and it was posted on the bulletin board at work? Welcome to the world of reviews!), and discouraging (in a word, rejection). Kind of like most jobs some days, eh? Except that we have no job security, no health plan, not even a regular salary. You should have seen the look on our financial planner's face when I said I had no idea how much money I'd make in a year. "None at all?" he replied, gobsmacked. "Nope," replied I, and I detailed some of the variables. I think the poor man may still be reeling.
So, is writing the hardest work in the world not involving heavy lifting? I'd say, "No, certainly not." BUT it's not nearly as easy as it looks, either.