Write It Sideways

The Top 5 Frustrations of the Writing Life

Most of us who dream of becoming published writers start off with an unrealistic picture of how it all works.

There’s the dream of sitting in cafes with one’s notebook, mingling with artsy types at book signings, or seeing one’s novel on the bestseller list. Very few of us, when we first began, stopped to give ourselves a reality check.

The truth is, writing isn’t easy. None of it is easy. In fact, it’s often downright frustrating.

How are these 5 frustrations affecting your writing life?

1. Lack of time

Most people–even published writers–have full time jobs. Stay-at-home moms and dads might not go out to work, but child-care is a full time job in itself.

They say the most productive time of day for most people is first thing in the morning. I happen to agree with that, but some prefer to work late at night or during breaks in the day.

How (and when) do you make time to write?

2. Writer’s block

While the very existence of writer’s block can be argued, no one can deny there are moments when we can’t find the right words, the right subjects, or the right motivation to continue.

Have you ever had a crushing case of writer’s block? What about more short-lived episodes?

How do you approach these times and find the strength to keep going?

3. Not knowing if you’re good enough

It’s the age old question–am I good enough to get published?

The answer is one of three options: (1) No, (2) Yes, (3) Not yet. For most of us, ‘not yet’ is most accurate.

Are you content to keep plugging away at your writing, with the knowledge (or hope) that you’re improving over time, or do you actively take steps to discover your current strengths and weaknesses?

If so, what are those steps?

4. Always wanting more

The first guest post you write for the web seems like a major thrill if it’s the first time you’ve shared your writing. Soon, you’re finding a home for your work in magazines, then perhaps in anthologies. The farther you get, the more you want.

In no time at all, you’re tempted to write a novel, then find an agent, and finally a publisher. After that, it’s about writing a better novel, then finding a more prestigious publisher.

It’s a slippery slope.

Every achievement seems wonderful until you see there’s something better just around the corner.

Having goals is great, but will you really be satisfied when you reach them? Do you think it’s even important to be satisfied, or is dissatisfaction the greatest motivation of all?

5. Not being taken seriously

Telling friends and family you’re getting serious about writing can be embarrassing–even humiliating–depending on a number of factors.

Some will be supportive, but many will laugh, or scoff behind your back. Getting published seems like such a long shot, people are generally skeptical about the odds being in your favour.

How do you deal with those who think your writing is a waste of time?

Is it all worth it?

If writing is so frustrating, is it really worth all the heartache?

I happen to think so, and I’ll bet you do too. Anything worth having is worth working for, so it’s more a matter of balancing frustration with reward.

In reality, that reward may never be an offer of publication, but there are enough small victories along the way to make it a noble pursuit.

What are your greatest frustrations with the writing life?