My Biggest Writing Struggle (What’s Yours?)

Last night, I spent four hours working on citations and end notes for an upcoming book. I had to manually add them so they didn't mess with the typesetting program. Which made for some pretty tedious work.

Arm-wrestling Photo
Photo credit: Dan Bennett (Creative Commons)

Every time I thought I finished, I'd find a place where I needed to insert one. Then it was back to the drawing board. I'd have to start all over again. I could have screamed.

For an impatient person like me, this was complete and utter hell.

The struggles writers face

We all have our own idiosyncrasies and shortcomings when it comes to writing, don't we? We have our frustrations and Achilles' heels, little things that trip us up and hold us back from doing the work.

We all battle the blank page, get stuck in creative ruts, and fall out of love with the craft. This is normal, this fact of struggle. It's what makes us human.

We all encounter obstacles at times, some that even make us want to quit. So why don't we share them? Why don't we admit what we're struggling with?

Two reasons:

  1. fear
  2. pride

We're too afraid to show our scars and too proud to mar our reputation. Let's change that. Because, I believe, we could help each other, if we only knew what was wrong.

So here's my struggle…

I like attention. I am addicted to short-term gratification. I tend to focus on the urgent, not the important, things in life.

Having a blog has often made this problem worse.

In an age when you can write anything, publish it yourself, and share your work with thousands of people — all within an hour — it's hard to hold back your best content.

The art of sitting on something to say has been lost to most of us, myself included.

My biggest writing struggle is waiting. TV has stolen my attention span. I no long appreciate activities that require patience.

If I'm honest, though, my best work still comes from taking my time, from the endless rewrites and editing that seem so mundane and pointless.

I have to discipline myself to hold back. I have friends read my work and give me feedback. I do this before sharing it with the world. This is how I know I'm being held accountable to creating art, not just making noise.

So there's my struggle: holding back when I'd rather jump the gun. It's not easy, and I don't manage it well. But sharing it here with you already helps.

Why was that so painful (and so freeing)?

This was kind of hard to admit here. I'd prefer that you think of me as some kind of Superman with a keyboard.

The truth is I have no idea what I'm doing. I don't have any of this figured out. I am right there in the trenches with you.

Sharing my own struggles helps take a load off. It relieves me of the burden to impress. Makes me feel more connected, more human, instead of isolated and robotic.

Anytime I share a struggle (about anything), I feel this way. Relieved. As if so much had been held back for so long and now is suddenly released.

I know how important transparency is, especially in communication. But I'm embarrassed by how much I neglect it, how much I hide from my healing. I hope we, together, can change that. I hope we can share our struggles.

Share your struggle

Currently, I'm working on a project to help other writers work through some of their struggles. I can't say much, so just stay tuned (make sure you're signed up for updates).

But I want to bring you in on some of the planning. I want to hear from you: What's your biggest writing struggle? Share it below. Your feedback is invaluable in helping me help you (hope that doesn't sound too Jerry Maguire-ish).

Plus, it'll be fun to see how we, as a community, can help each other out. I love the conversation that happens here.

Oh, and get ready: Something big is coming soon. In the meantime, tell me your struggle in the comments of this post. And respond to someone else's.