Almost three years ago, I wrote a post called The 7 Ways I Struggle With Writing. At the time, I was just starting to work on Dreamweaver and I found that everything I thought I knew about writing was either wrong or I simply didn’t know enough.
About a year after, I drafted a follow-up post which I promptly deleted because it was a bit depressing to think that I still, in many ways, struggled with writing.
But then I realized something.
We all struggle with writing.
We can be new to the craft or we can consider ourselves veterans, but I feel confident in saying that no matter where we lay on that spectrum, the struggle we have with writing will never go away.
Just because it won’t go away though doesn’t mean that we don’t learn new ways to cope with those struggles.
Today I’m going to do a recap over the 7 ways that I still struggle with writing and the methods or tools I use to help me get over it and find my way back to what I love about writing, which is creating worlds and people and struggles and loves.
The 7 Ways Writers Struggle With Writing
- Sabotage by Others
I think the important thing to remember is that as writers, we all battle with one, a few, or even all of these writing struggles. I have yet to meet a writer who doesn’t! Even that guy who thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread (side eye, you know who you are, lol), has some deep unresolved issues with any one of these writing struggles.
Perhaps you can relate to how my struggles in each area manifest. Perhaps you can relate to how I deal with them or, even better, share with me how you battle these writing demons.
I’m the worst at this, probably more than most people. Like many people though, I have my good days and I have my bad days. Sometimes I can’t help but feel that I’m wasting my time and I doubt whether or not my writing will ever be good enough. I still find myself questioning every decision I make, down to whether or not to kill this darling, whether or not the inciting incident has enough emotional punch, and even, whether or not there should be a comma here.
The buck has to stop at some point though. Ultimately, I (we) have to stop doubting! After a certain point, there is only so much we can do to our own work to improve it without outside eyes. Critique partners are great, but if we can get a professional’s opinion, even better. After we’ve done everything we can possibly do, there comes a time when we need to let experts tell us what is or isn’t working in our work.
Let’s just get one thing straight. I struggle with all seven of these writing problems. I do. There isn’t one that I haven’t been a victim of at least once, if not many times. With that said, I absolutely struggle with perfectionism.
When doing an overhaul revision of Dreamweaver, I found that I would edit a scene until I felt that it was flawless and that the narrative was doing everything it needed to and that the voice was sounding punchy and in-your-fac-ey (so not a word). I’d come back the next day ready to slay some dragons only to reread what I had done the previous day and completely hate it. This would lead to another full rewrite, more agony about the perfectness of it, and then perhaps a character death is thrown in (because who doesn’t like to cry in chapter one, amirite?).
The best way to prevent the desire to be perfect is to remember that nothing can ever be perfect, no matter what. No matter what I write, how well I write or how many people love what I write, there will be just as many people (if not more) who think I’m terrible at it and will hate everything I do. Those are just facts of life and I have to tell myself this every day. We can’t please everyone nor should we want to. We have to make peace with this fact and move on.
I don’t know about you, but I like to run to Pinterest when I feel like there are a billion things that I need to write, but omygoodness is that an infographic about how to write the perfect ship, I must pin it right away!!
200 pins later, no writing is done, but I’ve added like 5 boards to my profile, so can we call that productive? No?
To prevent myself from procrastinating, I’ve given myself a little “rule”. The rule is, I can do anything for 5 minutes. All I have to do is 5 minutes of my best effort, and if I don’t want to do it anymore after the 5 minutes are up, I’m free to walk away and find another way to be productive. I’ve found, however, that during those 5 minutes, I get into a sort of groove and before I know it, I’m hitting the snooze on my phone because it just won’t just up and why is this thing squeaking at me!
There’s an evil genius tucked somewhere within my psyche who loves to find ways to mess with me.
To stop myself from getting in my own way, I do try to make my writing area a place where I want to be. I also don’t like to stay seated in one place for very long. I’m weird. I have this thing where I like to “change my perspective” by physically moving to another location in my house or setting up outside for a bit.
I do have to put into place a bunch of fail-safes just to prevent myself from sabotaging my writing efforts. For example, I do my best to block out my writing time and protect that time at all costs. So I don’t schedule things during those blocks and I do my best to stay off social media. I’ve had to learn how to tell people ‘no’, which is very hard for me because I love people and I love interacting with people and it does kill a little piece of my soul when I can’t do all the things with everyone. However, keeping my writing time as sacred has definitely help me stop self-sabotaging myself.
This is probably one of the ugliest of the seven writing struggles.
Why do I say that?
Because…it just feels so slimy to feel this way towards another human. I don’t know, I just don’t like feeling this way, period.
This one is probably the hardest because it’s the one we don’t like to own up to the most. You know how it is when you see how great your writing friend is doing and, oh, didn’t you hear? They’re getting published by (massively successful) publishing house and they have like 500 reviews on Goodreads already from book bloggers who are loving their book! Didn’t you hear about that?!
I think I hate this one the most because the very concept of comparing oneself to another is very psychologically damaging and give no benefit to the person comparing. No good comes of this!
To create a fail-safe against this, I try to remember that we all have our own writing paths, that no one path is going to be the same for everyone or best serve everyone. Our experience may be shared, but ultimately, this is a hill we must find a way to climb on our own. No one is going to put us on their backs and hike us up Everest is what I’m trying to say.
So how do we not get jealous?
Easy. Just don’t.
Find a way to be genuinely happy for your writer friend, because they worked hard to and deserve their success as much as you do.
Sabotage by Others
I’ve never had to deal with being genuinely sabotaged by another person. Now, in full honesty, when I first started working with critique partners for Dreamweaver three years ago, I 100% felt like my critiques were full of hurtful sabotage.
I also thought I was the best thing since kettle cooked potato chips, so… take that as you will.
Constructive criticism is not the same as being sabotaged by others. Being sabotaged by others is a deliberate kind of evil. It’s someone who knows that your work is important to you and does everything they can to make you feel small and insignificant because of it.
If someone is sabotaging you, and I mean genuinely doing so, cut the ties. Get rid of that toxicity and find a good strong support system instead.
I like constructive criticism. What I don’t like is criticism for the sake of being nasty. Or criticism that comes from a place other than genuine desire to help someone grow and improve. Constructive criticism is hard to find, and I got very lucky with the critique partners that I’ve had that I haven’t had to deal with a lot of hurtful baseless criticism.
It’s also important to note that, while some criticism can seem baseless, unfounded and seemingly coming from the lips of a useless sea cucumber, there may be some nugget of truth to it.
It’s best to let criticism of our writing sit for a bit, whether that be an hour or more, a day or weeks, even months. However, if there is recurring feedback on the same thing, then that’s a good indication that you might want to think about the feedback harder and find ways to address the issues.
How do you struggle with writing? What are your methods for working through those struggles? Have you ever had to deal with criticism that wasn’t constructive or someone who was sabotaging you? How’d you overcome it?
I’d love to hear your thoughts about any or all of these writing issues.
Keep Reading and Keep Writing,