Writing Ain’t Easy

chimp laughingRecently I was having some email banter with a group of my writer friends. One of them is working on her first novel, was feeling insecure about it, and asked if this lack of confidence would dissipate as she gets more experienced in writing.

So another friend, a veteran with several novels under her belt, shared this:

 

The complete lack of confidence will likely persist and even become worse as you progress. I called my editor this summer and said, “What the heck is going on? This is my sixth novel! Shouldn’t I at least have my creative process figured out by now?!” And she laughed at me.

She laughed.

At.

Me.

And then through snorts she said, “Oh my gosh, is that really how you think this works?”

I couldn’t help nodding in recognition at this exchange, because as an agent I’m the recipient of many of these kinds of emails. The “I thought my writing was getting better—why is my editorial letter still 12 pages long?!” emails. The “Sometimes this is so hard I feel like crying” emails.

I think the writing journey is one of fits and starts . . .  good days and bad days . . . times where you know you’ve nailed it and times when you wonder what ever made you think you can write. This is normal! This is why everyone always says it’s a tough road. Half the battle is dealing with your own mental and emotional responses to your situation.

So take heart…if you’re not finding this easy, you’re not alone. If it was easy, anyone could do it.

What are some specific hurdles you’ve faced lately in your writing & publishing journey? How did you get past them?

Posted in

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

86 Comments

  1. Support Your Favorite Writer | Cate Macabe on November 1, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    […] I think the writing journey is one of fits and starts . . . good days and bad days . . . times where you know you’ve nailed it and times when you wonder what ever made you think you can write. This is normal! This is why everyone always says it’s a tough road. Half the battle is dealing with your own mental and emotional responses to your situation. ~ Rachelle Gardner […]



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  5. Catherine on November 8, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    Hurdles…hmmm.

    Submitting to agents for my first novel, and getting rejected by all of them. Granted, there were only twelve queries, but still, those first stings are the hardest.

    Then, realizing that there’s a good chance my first novel wont get published, and trying to move on to something completely different after working on my first book for FIVE YEARS. It’s been a hard road, but NaNoWriMo is admittedly getting me through it, because it is forcing me to get over myself and start working on a new idea.

    I’ve come to terms with the fact that it could take another ten years before my writing chops are up to par and I fall on a really breakout idea that could get me published. Could, if I can get an agent and the markets are right for said idea.

    All of this seems like being in the right place, at the right time, with the right polished MS in your hand. In other words, it feels like a big ole crapshoot. And I hate it.

    But, I love writing. I love my craft, and I’m going to keep at because really there’s nothing else I’m as passionate about in my life. Well, maybe except for dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I’m pretty passionate about those…

    Catherine



  6. Kate Anderson on November 2, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    Thanks Rachel. I’m on my first novel and MS has been done for 6 months!Then… Feedback. Edit. Re-write. I tell my husband ‘I finished my novel today’ and he says, “What, again?”
    !!!



  7. haley on November 2, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    A big one for me is remembering not to think it’s done and fall in love with it yet. I’m a potter too, and it’s the same thing. never expect your piece to be finished until it’s out of the kiln for the SECOND time…. because so many things could go wrong from point A to point Z…

    I have a habit of writing books with characters that aren’t developed, and stories with very little plot. That’s okay though, because the first time I write it I get the bones. by the end of the first draft I’ve figured out the character, and I can go back and fix everything I did wrong in the first three quarters. The third draft I usually add in a secondary plot or connect ends that I forgot. Third draft is finally when it starts to resemble something worth while. So I have to remember not to call it “done” until it’s actually done.



  8. Cindy Chance on November 2, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    Rachelle, I’m dedicating time to my writing for the first time in my life and I’m so happy about it despite all of the stomach churning fears and worries I feel. I appreciate your blog post. It may never get easier but it’s still such a worthwhile endeavor. I’m glad I found your site. I will check back often. Thanks!
    Cindy at explorevirginia.blogspot.com



  9. Sarah Thomas on November 1, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    I think one of the hardest things is occaisionally writing something exquisite. I wrote a short essay a while back about a dear friend taking communion three days before she died. I still LOVE it. The moment was so beautiful and my spirit was so deeply engaged that I couldn’t help but write well. It’s hard not to do that ALL the time.



  10. Kristin Laughtin on November 1, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    Yes! I’m not published, but I’ve written quite a few novels for practice and with each one I wonder why I’m not amazing on the first or second try yet. It makes me feel better to know everyone struggles with this, even people who have “made it”.

    Lately I’ve been struggling with lack of creativity, or, more appropriately, lack of original ideas. I’m still working my way through it!



  11. Krista Phillips on November 1, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Biggest Hurdle:

    Lack of (uninterrupted) time. And related to that, trying to figure out WHAT to work during the time I DO have.



  12. Nicole Rushin on November 1, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    Yes, I get this. There is no getting to the other side. As Jonathon Fields says it is just about learning to live with the uncertainty.



  13. Lori Benton on November 1, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    My biggest hurdle in regards to writing was getting over chemo fog after cancer. That took five years. Now, I’m just grateful my brain is back up to speed and willing to work each day, and I’ve written three novels since those discouraging days. Some aspects of writing are harder than they used to be. Long term memory for research is spotty. I have to work a bit harder at it now than in my twenties, but I appreciate each day’s work far more than I did then.



  14. Peter DeHaan on November 1, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    I vacillate between “my writing is brilliant” to “my writing is a piece of junk” (or some more colorful variation thereof) — sometimes with only minutes between each extreme.

    My solution is to keep pushing forward. And usually things get better — both my writing and my attitude.



  15. Reba on November 1, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    I sooooooo needed to hear that one.
    Thank you for letting me know that I am normal.
    :0)



  16. Nedelinka on November 1, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    I think being a little bit unsecure is not a bad thing. That way you always try to write better and better. Not too unsecure though.



  17. Rachel Hauck on November 1, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    The challenge is to keep growing. The initial burst we have as authors, storytellers, burns away after a few books. But we’re lulled into thinking we know what we’re doing. 😉

    Keep learning. Go to conferences. Really, really learn techniques that help you craft a story better and faster. If you’re a pantser, slow down and do some plotting and character work up front. It won’t kill the joy of the story.

    I really had to learn to do that or give up writing. The stress of second guessing all the way through wasn’t worth it.

    Once I put some techniques about character development into place, the plotting because easier and the whole joy of writing returned!

    Doesn’t erase the doldrums of writing when it all feels boring and stale, of wading through the murky middle, or that now I over think things and have to remind myself to let go and just write, but planning does help navigate those book waters better!

    IMHO,
    Rachel



  18. Eric W. Trant on November 1, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    There’s a saying in Crossfit training, which I apply also to writing: Embrace the suck.

    That’s all you can do. Either that or quit, and nobody said quit.

    – Eric



    • Heather Gilbert on November 1, 2011 at 7:11 PM

      I LOVE THIS! embracing it!



  19. TC Avey on November 1, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    I can doubt myself, but then I would be doubting God. I truly feel he has inspired me to write. That does not mean he intends for me to be a best selling author, but I leave that in his hands. I’m obeying his will in my life and trusting he will direct my path. I have peace in my journey even as I am encountering rejection letters.
    To me, that only means it wasn’t the right fit at this this time for my book.
    I know it is a long journey and I so appreciate blogs like this. They help on days I am doubting myself, days I am having trouble focusing on Gods plan.

    Hurtles I am currently crossing, is my query good or should I change it? I don’t have any writing friends, my only contact with other writers is through blogs. My small community doesn’t offer writing critic groups, but I’m not giving up…eventually I will find some one on one help!



  20. M. Pope on November 1, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    Last line should read as follows: “If it WERE easy, anyone could do it.” I guess everyone needs a little editing every now and then, even literary agents.

    Grammar Nazi aside, I did enjoy the post, and it was very encouraging. I have just recently found your blog Rachelle, and I read it nearly every day. Good stuff! Keep it comin’.



    • M. Pope on November 1, 2011 at 1:20 PM

      Excuse my own mistake. My sentence should read “I have just recently found your blog, Rachelle, and I read it nearly every day.” Gotta get those commas around those nouns of direct address. Grammar Nazi rules again.



  21. David Todd on November 1, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    The biggest hurdle for me is, without a doubt, knowing what to write next. Unfortunately I have interests in too many things to focus on one thing. I just received the proof copy of my historical/political non-fiction self-published book, and I just finished my second novel that is currently out with beta readers, so I’m between projects. What to write next? I could write more non-fiction (which I enjoyed writing). I could write another novel in either of the genres I’ve written in, or maybe go into one of the other three genres I’m interested in. Or I could go back to writing articles for e-magazines and make some money for a while.

    I haven’t yet overcome this hurdle. Once I get past a knot in my personal schedule, I’ll get started on my next project, based on the interest that cries for the most attention.



  22. Charlee Vale on November 1, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    I’m currently revising a novel that I think has the potential to go all the way…

    But some of it needs such a major overhaul I’ve been cringing away from doing the work, simply because I know there’s going to be a lot of it.

    *sigh* I would love it if it got easier, but I suppose that anything worth doing is never truly easy…

    Now, back to work!

    CV



  23. Linda Bello-Ruiz on November 1, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    I innocently thought I’d sit down, write my memories, go on the Oprah Show and instantly be famous. I expected a book deal and movie deal to follow shortly thereafter. I imagined Reba McEntire playing me in the movie. Then I woke up.
    I started writing in June, 2010. I surrounded myself with five years of letters I had written to my parents between 1971 and 1976. Each of those letters start with “Dear Mom and Dad.” Thus, the title. I also found two journals I had kept off and on, over that time period and they helped fill in memory gaps.
    On July 1, 2011, at 5:00 p.m., I typed in the final “.” and screamed,
    “I’m done!” Hank made margaritas to celebrate.
    Believing “I’m done,” was just as naive as believing Oprah Winfrey was going to invite me to jump on her couch.
    I have heard it said, and now believe, that you will spend 20% of your time writing your manuscript and the other 80% of your time editing it. Yep, that’s what happens. With help from my editing groups, I had edited every word in the manuscript by July 1st, and found it pleasing. My editing group found more errors. I rewrote. I found the rewrite pleasing. Then, my writing buddy Leo, found huge gaps in logic and style and I had to agree with him. I rewrote. I found the rewrite pleasing. Then, I went to meet with a manuscript analyst – Sue Clark. I call her my “Book Doctor.” Guess what? You got it . . . I’m re-writing.
    “Are you done yet?” my friends want to know.
    Almost.



  24. Ruth Taylor on November 1, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    I just had a conversation yesterday with a writing buddy about the insecurity I’m experiencing with my current (debut) novel.

    A week or so ago, I did have confidence that it was the best I could do, but after reading it on my Nook, I realized that it still needs extensive work. I’ve already been through 10 detailed drafts. I look forward to a professional editor ripping up, eh hem, I mean, helping perfect my work!



  25. s.p.bowers on November 1, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Thank you! The closer I get to finishing this MS the more scared I have become. I thought the fear would be leaving me by now. Glad to know this is normal.



  26. Connie Read Burris on November 1, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    For me, melding Rachelle’s post with all of your comments illustrates that the writer’s journey seems to mirror the path of the faith journey.

    I have hope!…..but I must do the work (writing).



  27. Katharine on November 1, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    This is such a grace-filled post. I know that I need to hear more of “it’s supposed to be hard” posts and fewer of the “success came easy for me” posts. I think your next contest should be the cheesiest metaphor for the difficult life of the writer. I’m thinking that my entire writing journey is like an ocean voyage — up, down, swells, doldrums, and far too much seasickness.

    Great post!



  28. Happy National Authors Day! — EMLA Blog on November 1, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    […] I will cheat out of a regular blog post and borrow a great post from another agent: Writing Ain’t Easy, by Rachelle Gardner. Well said, […]



  29. Lindsay Harrel on November 1, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    Rachelle,

    It’s so helpful to know that others feel doubtful sometimes too!

    I’m an editor by trade, so the most difficult thing for me in writing my novel is to JUST WRITE and not worry so much about the quality of the writing…when I’m writing the rough draft, that is. I just need to get what’s in my head out onto the screen, and I can go back to fix it later.

    It has been hard, because I want to go back and edit right away, or edit as I write, but then the flow of the writing stops and I never get anywhere.

    I was able to overcome this hurdle by reminding myself that, once I have the rough draft written, I will be able to go back through and edit the whole manuscript. I have the skills to make it better. I just have to take it one step at a time.

    Oh yeah, and breathe. 🙂

    http://lindsayharrel.blogspot.com



  30. Donna Pyle on November 1, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    As I face the daunting challenge to turn in a 55,000 word Bible study by Jan. 2nd, I created my first-ever daily word count calendar. But, thanks to the wisdom of veteran writers, I also added an accountability parter to whom I report the actual daily numbers. It has kept me on my toes because I don’t want to be fussed at (even though I asked her to if I miss the goal)!!



  31. Adriana on November 1, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    I like to think that I’ll get better at writing.

    And though I’m trying for over a month now to finish the outline for a fiction novel, instead of developing a novel I keep coming with ideas for other writings. So, it’s difficult to be secure when I can’t even organize my ideas and my thinking!

    What keeps me writing is the fact that people find my ideas fascinating and want to hear more! I just hope they’re sincere and they’re not only trying to be polite! (See? Insecure again!)



  32. Janet Bettag on November 1, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Great post. I’ve been trying to remind myself that my writing habit is really just like my regular 9 to 5. I haven’t had a job in over 30 yaars of working full-time where there weren’t ups and downs in terms of my productivity, enthusiasm and competency. I’ve had more days than I care to recall when I thought, “How could I have screwed that up so badly? I’ve been doing this for years!”

    I believe the more we write, the more skilled we become at our craft, but that doesn’t mean the creative juices are going to flow faster or that real life isn’t going to interfere with the process – or that we aren’t going to have times when we feel burned out.

    Right now I’m taking a break from NaNoWriMo writing. I’ve pounded out a little over 9,100 words in the six plus hours since I started at 3:00 a.m. and I had to stop for a while because (1) I feel cross-eyed, (2) I had to make a fresh pot of coffee and (3) panic set in because I know it’s not all going to flow at this pace and I’m scared to death what will happen if I get deeper into the plot and freeze up.

    I’m leaving the link to this blog in my email inbox – just in case I need to come back a jillion times in the next 30 days to be reminded that it isn’t always going to go smoothly. Oh, and by the way, that it’s not the end of the world if doesn’t.



  33. joan Cimyotte on November 1, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    I think self doubt is my biggest hurdle. There is absolutely no one telling me that my efforts as a writer are worth my bother. It has always been just me. I enjoy writing and immersing myself into the story just like I feel when I’m reading a good book. Even as I’m revising it, I still enjoy it. Oh doubts…those pesky doubts. Getting someone else to feel good about my work, now that’s a job I can’t seem to put my finger on. Oh yeah, doubts…



  34. Patricia Raybon on November 1, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    Great question, Rachelle. After much writing–and now several books–I finally see an answer: Our confidence fails when we mistake our writing as our own. But we don’t write for ourselves or to prove that we can. We write because God has something to say–and he chose us as the vessel. Knowing that, we can worry less about ourselves and rely most on him. How? One word at a time. (And thank you for your post!)



    • birdermurdermama on November 2, 2011 at 1:27 PM

      I love this response, Patricia! I find too that when I just ask God to do the writing, to work me out of a corner, or to take the plot and run with it, the story-telling flows right out. Then, later, I read it and I’m amazed at what “I” produced. Truly, for me, writing is God’s work!



  35. Christen on November 1, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    Thanks for the encouragement! Doubt is an ugly thing that many of us struggle with. I appreciate the words of wisdom!

    Christen

    http://www.theuncontainabletruth.com



  36. Rick Barry on November 1, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    I’ve read that bodybuilders experience similar attacks on their self-confidence. No matter how many hours they pump iron in a gym, no matter how beefy they become, they can conclude it’s all in vain. They look in the mirror and can no longer see their progress. They feel “small,” especially compared to other gorillas in the gym. They envy non-lifter friends who actually have a social life outside of the weight room….

    Anyone can suffer setbacks in confidence. But perhaps those who toil away in solitude are most susceptible to the nagging whispers that say, “You’re no good. Why not just quit?”



  37. Samuel on November 1, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    I trust my stuff.

    It will always have room for improvement, so I will always seek that…

    But even on my worst day I can write some strong work, and I can tell what works and what doesn’t.

    So I trust my stuff.



  38. Christina Baglivi Tinglof on November 1, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    Procrastination! Even after five books, countless magazine articles, I still fear failure and look to do anything but write. Right now I’m reading my favorite blogs! See?



  39. Vera Soroka on November 1, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    Great post! I’m struggling right now trying to write a short story. They all want to be novels. I get frustrated when I see others do it without much effort at least that’s the way it looks. I guess writing is a mixed bag of emotions.



  40. Joe Pote on November 1, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    Writing is about communicating and communication is almost always difficult.

    It’s not just about getting what’s in my head on paper, but about getting it on paper in a form that will aid someone else in comprehending what I am trying to express…in a manner that is captivating enough for them to finish reading it…with a good enough hook at the start for them to start reading it…with a good enough finish to compell them to action…with not so many errors in between as to distract and lose their attention.

    It’s just hard! …and always will be…

    Thanks for the post!



  41. Lisa Marie on November 1, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    Oh, Rachelle, I so needed to read this today. I’m in the middle of revisions, and there are some days when I wake up and wonder if I’ve completely lost my touch. But at the end of the day, I look over what I’ve accomplished for the day, and I think, “Hey … not half bad.” It’s dangerous to become too cocky, too confident with respect to one’s craft. To my mind, that suggests that I’m not really trying as hard as I should be.

    Have a great day!



  42. Susan Bourgeois on November 1, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    It took me a while to figure out that it’s OK to feel unsure at times.

    It was confirmed that it was OK after I read several stories from people we all admire.

    Robert McKee mentioned the importance of realizing that most of the 1st draft will not be kept by the writer. He quoted Hemingway.

    I’ve read about the way our brain works during the writing process.

    We should focus first on the creative area of our brains and write freely, without worrying about editing.

    After we finish the first draft, we can begin to concentrate with the other part of the brain that edits.

    Of course I am not describing any of this to perfection.

    Articles like the ones I’ve mentioned have made me realize that it’s normal to become frustrated and to doubt yourself at different stages of the writing process.

    What’s most important to me is that I never give up until I have a polished manuscript and one that I’m proud to submit.

    I think that’s what separates the dreamers from the people who are willing to go the distance.

    I’m a dreamer with a goal of going the distance but it’s not a smooth road for any writer.



  43. Sandie Bricker on November 1, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    It’s kind of funny that this posted today, Rachelle. I just wrote a piece for Christian Fiction Online Magazine where I addressed this very issue about it never getting easier and the real necessity for a writer to be flexible! Perhaps your readers will find it helpful? http://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/brilliant_night.html



  44. Larry Shallenberger on November 1, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    I remember Philip Yancey writing that writing gets harder for him with each book since he becomes more aware of what good writing looks like.



  45. Connie Almony on November 1, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    What?! Is the Holy Spirit whispering in your ear? Needed that message. All last week I was reading devotions that said Satan would try to make me feel worthless so I’d give up. Then, got a tough critique and had to remember that one. Now this! Thanks Rachelle!!!



  46. Laura in Texas on November 1, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    My biggest hurdle, other than the fact that I have a demanding full-time legal practice in an office 50 miles from home, is the ongoing struggle with feeling like everything I want to say in my writing has already been said before, much better than I’m capable of saying it. Every word I write has to get past the voice in my head that’s screaming, “That sucks. What makes you think you can write a novel?!”

    How do I overcome it? I haven’t yet. I just keep struggling, trying to get a few words written each day even if they suck.

    Since my location and schedule leave me isolated from other writers that might provide support and encouragement, I really appreciate blogs like this one.



    • TC Avey on November 1, 2011 at 1:30 PM

      Sounds like you have a very tough schedule! I admire your determination and time management!
      Last year I became a stay at home mom, I thought this would give me more time but somehow it hasn’t, I just add more commitments.

      Take heart, your words are important. You may not be the next C.S. Lewis or Max Lucado and that is okay. Their spot is filled. You may reach someone that they (or others) can’t. Sometimes I can hear the same message a million times, but then I hear it by someone else and it finally clicks!
      Your words matter, keep going!!!



      • Laura in Texas on November 1, 2011 at 5:07 PM

        Thank you for the encouragement. Appreciated more than you know.



        • TC Avey on November 1, 2011 at 7:20 PM

          You are very welcome! We all need encouragement! Hope you’re having a wonderful day.



  47. Stephen H. King on November 1, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    I can relate. David Eddings said we have to write a million words before we compose anything worth reading. Sort of, anyway, in a I-haven’t-had-enough-coffee-yet nutshell.

    I do have the same problem, going through currently revising my second novel. I keep thinking, “I wrote THAT?” Doesn’t help that my publisher wants more out of me, and faster too. Doesn’t he understand that I’m going on vacation? Vay. Kay. Shun. You know, when I oughtta be forgetting to take my laptop? Wouldn’t surprise me to find a Writers’ Corner at Disney World where all of us are hunkered around our laptops furiously revisionating while the kids meet Mickey and Goofy.

    I think I used to believe that once I got the first novel published it would be all wine and caviar–and words writing themselves. Heck, I don’t remember; that was so many misconceptions ago.



  48. Timothy Fish on November 1, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    I see it all as part of the process. If I were convinced that my writing was good all the time, my writing would be terrible because I would be happy with everything. After all, I wrote it, so it must be good. But when I look at something I’ve written and I hate it, that motivates me to try to make it better. In looking for a way to fix it, I end up looking at it in a completely different way and discover way to to improve other things as well, even some of those things I thought didn’t need improving.



  49. Mel's World with Melissa Mashburn on November 1, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    I think we all know this to be true, but to actually hear that other people struggle with the same exact roller coaster of emotions is quite refreshing. I don’t wish that upon anyone but to know that it is “normal”…well, that just releases some of the pressure. Thanks for the great insight and always helpful posts!



  50. Deborah Serravalle on November 1, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    First off, THANK YOU! How affirming.

    Secondly, this is the challenge I presently, face – I’m going through yet another round of re-writes (that’s normal, I know) and I am encouraged as I see my work being transformed. HOWEVER, being the ‘insecure writer’ you described, I find it difficult listening to others comment on how long this is taking. “Aren’t you done yet.” Or, “You’re a perfectionist, I”m sure it’s fine. Publish already.” As if it were a simple matter of turning off the computer and running my novel-manuscript next door to my neighborhood publisher. As I write this I realize these comments are made by people who don’t have a clue and no doubt mean well, but I at times they do make me question myself.

    To conclude, after listening to these comments I go back to the spot that grounds me. I have a plan, I’m working the plan and when I have the manuscript to where I feel it’s as good as I can do I’ll look for an agent. Not before.

    Boy, that was a rant. I’m hope you’re still glad you asked!



  51. kiff on November 1, 2011 at 7:59 AM

    the greatest hurdle was overcoming the art of procrastination. when i decided I wanted to write, that was when everything else suddenly became urgent.

    So i tackled the things and people that contributed to my procrastination and worked on improving my discipline bring balance to my life.

    I cut out daily afternoon napping (and Rachelle that was even before I saw your random facts!)and used the time I would normally spend napping to pray,write,and read.



  52. Marielena on November 1, 2011 at 7:43 AM

    Fits. Starts. Good days. Bad days. Yup. Sounds about right. As my favorite Southern author, Flannery O’Connor said: “Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay …” Tell me again, please, why I do this?



  53. otin on November 1, 2011 at 7:27 AM

    Sometimes I’ll write a chapter and then the next day I’ll read it back and say to myself, “I can’t believe how bad that is.” Then I’ll rewrite it and go through the whole process again.



  54. carol brill on November 1, 2011 at 7:21 AM

    I started the year with a long list of “things a writer must do to get known/build a platform/market. I spread myself thin across social networks, blogs, etc. It took up lots of time and left me dizzy and not feeling connected at all.
    In the last weeks, the advice from your blog Rachelle has helped me pare back, unsubscribe to a bunch of blogs and groups and focus on a few…whew. thanks



  55. jeffo on November 1, 2011 at 7:17 AM

    Heh, I was all set to send my ms out to a couple of readers on Saturday, and then I took a cursory cruise through it and realized that, in making some changes last week, I’d left a fairly large hanger. And that hanger has defied all my attempts to fix it. What to do? Keep at it, because I know it will get fixed, and try not to get too impatient.



  56. Beth K. Vogt on November 1, 2011 at 5:06 AM

    Hurdles:
    1.Getting over the whole Sally Fields Syndrome, i.e. not worrying if “You like me! You really like me!”
    Sigh. That can make a writer (me) c-r-a-z-y.
    Got past it by getting over myself. Again and again.
    2. Getting the whole Real Life versus Writing Life balance right. Keeping my family and my fictional characters happy. Yeah, that’s a tough one. They usually all feel neglected.
    Got past it by trying. Again and again.
    And I have a very forgiving family.
    🙂



  57. Adam Heine on November 1, 2011 at 3:12 AM

    Biggest hurdles:
    * Asking my wife for secluded writing time that has, so far, paid less than 10 cents/hour.
    * Using said writing time to stare at the wall.
    * Finishing said writing time having written a whole 20 words.
    * Finishing a novel only to have it rejected by critiquers.
    * Finish editing a novel only to have it rejected by agents.
    * Collecting 150+ rejections over the course of three novels.
    * The feeling that everything I write sucks and will never sell.

    How I got past them:
    I kept writing.



    • TC Avey on November 1, 2011 at 1:26 PM

      Thanks for sharing your journey. It helps to know I am not alone.

      Keep going, one day at a time…at least that is what I am doing!!!



  58. Susan H. McIntyre on November 1, 2011 at 2:40 AM

    I find that I layout the book by chapter, and for each chapter the same thing happens. I incubate in the back of my mind while tending to other life tasks. Then it all comes together and I go on a writing marathon. I forget to eat, sleep, take meds, etc. Then I must rest, play non-verbal games, and get back in rhythm. After this, the cycle begins again. I think it is basically the creative cycle. One thing I am sure of is that I am happy when writing and very unhappy when I am not. We must accept that it is a blessing and a curse, but nonetheless a calling.



    • birdermurdermama on November 2, 2011 at 1:19 PM

      Susan, this is my cycle, too. And I absolutely relate to your comment that I am happy when writing, unhappy when not writing. If I’m not immersed in writing a story, I feel aimless. It’s an albatross around my neck till I finish a book, but then a few days into ‘yeah!no writing to do!’ I begin to wish for the albatross again. Writing is who I am.



  59. Camille Eide on November 1, 2011 at 2:30 AM

    Laughing, because I just had this exchange with a CP today. Remember the scene with Faye Dunaway in Chinatown where Jack Nicolson is slapping the tragic truth out of her? Only I’m saying, “I love my book. I hate my book! I love my book. I hate my book…”

    So these moments are normal. Whew.

    I have a much keener respect for novelists now that I’ve joined them, and am not so quick to pick apart others’ work. I KNOW how hard this is to do even halfway well. I OFTEN doubt my reason for even considering this. I imagine everyone else throwing down those great stories, one after another, 3 or 4 a year, and here I struggle with one blasted book, wondering why I torture myself, what made me think I could do this, why it’s so much HARDER the more you learn, (wait…. exactly WHY is that again??)

    So it doesn’t get easier? I mean, could you please lie and say it gets easier after the eighteenth best-seller, something? As long as there’s a drive to keep making myself crazy over these words and these stories, I guess there’s comfort in knowing I’m not alone. 🙂



  60. Anna Labno on November 1, 2011 at 2:21 AM

    James Scott Bell talked about it in his book, Plot & Structure. All of the writers go through it at some time. You’re not alone!



  61. Kimm on November 1, 2011 at 2:19 AM

    Thanks so much for this post! I was seriously just asking my husband to pray for me because I have gotten nothing done this week. Life with four young children and writing don’t always coexist. When this happens, life in general, I try not to despair because I know that if I don’t live life and experience the chaos then I will have nothing to write about. Some of my best writing comes out of the depths of despair and agony. Never forced…just lived and retold.



  62. Anna Labno on November 1, 2011 at 2:17 AM

    My system shutdown. It happened just after the conference. I couldn’t do any writing or reading. I was tired of it. So, I thought that’s the end for me. I didn’t force it. Then after two weeks that phase was gone. I wanted to read and write. I had so much passion in me. So, take a break if you need to. You need to recharge yourself if needed. Watch movies instead for example. That’s what I was doing.
    I didn’t know that I will be pulled again by unexplained force. But that’s what happened with me. I feel all the joy that I did! I read and write!



    • Jackie Ley on November 1, 2011 at 7:42 AM

      I really identify with this, Anna. Sometimes taking a break for a couple of weeks can make us anxious because we feel like we’re time wasting, but often this is the time when we take a step back from the wip and fresh ideas get a chance to percolate. I’m two thirds of the way through my current novel. I’ve been in a good routine, clocking up the word count, ideas flowing etc. Then suddenly I felt the need to take a break, review where I’d got to so far and mull things over for a while. It’s been so beneficial. I now feel refreshed and invigorated with new ideas, ready to embark on the rest and hopefully nail the thing! I haven’t experienced this previously but maybe every novel needs a different approach.



      • Anna Labno on November 1, 2011 at 11:59 AM

        It happens to even accomplished writers. When that happens, then you know you need to step back.
        It works wonders if you do. 🙂



  63. john idstrom on November 1, 2011 at 2:14 AM

    I can’t recall feeling secure about anything I’ve ever written. It’s horrible.



  64. Barbara Carrasquillo on November 1, 2011 at 1:21 AM

    I appreciate this information, because I’ve been wondering the same thing!



  65. Jill on November 1, 2011 at 1:17 AM

    Hurdles? Not knowing if I’ll ever know if I’ve nailed it. My gut instincts are almost always wrong. Recently, I knew I’d nailed a piece of writing–and then I got confused responses back from betas. How can a writer ever know?



  66. Rohit Trilokekar on November 1, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    Thanks. Was wondering if I was going crazy 🙂



  67. Neurotic Workaholic on November 1, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    I think procrastination is my biggest hurdle. I know about how much work I have to do, and yet I’ll sometimes find myself wasting time doing boring stuff, like mindless Internet surfing or watching reruns. But I’ve managed to turn writing into a regular habit, so that it’s easier to get it done, rather than just writing whenever I have time.



    • birdermurdermama on November 2, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      I’ve got the procrastination thing down pat, too. Here I am, reading Facebook when I am determined to finish my newest novel this month and should be writing right NOW.



  68. maine character on November 1, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    Thanks for that. This is how I’ve felt today:

    Painting and sculpture have been my ruin. I would have been better off making matches.
    – Michelangelo

    Well, except for the Michelangelo part.



  69. Cindy R. Wilson on November 1, 2011 at 12:31 AM

    I suppose this helps, to know we’re not alone with these feelings. It seems like it changes for every novel. Each new one I write I specifically try to work on something I didn’t do so well in the last. But sometimes that means I’m not so attentive to those things I did well in the last because I’m focusing so hard on something else. And then it happens all over again in the next. Of course there’s growth, but there’s always something to work on–and if there wasn’t, we wouldn’t be challenging ourselves as writers. Thanks for sharing this post!



  70. Dianne Liuzzi Hagan on November 1, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    I’m working with a group of writers on an anthology of essays. I was excited at the start, and the momentum carried me through three essays, weeks and months ahead of my collaborators. But their delays squashed my momentum. I have one more essay to write, and I’ve started it about five times and deleted each attempt. I began to wonder if I had a single word left in my brain. But I’ve told myself I can’t wait for others to motivate me to write, so I’ve been doing some reading up on my topic and starting to feel the urge to communicate once again.

    http://aboutracewriter.blogspot.com/



  71. L. Cossette on November 1, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    Wow, this was timely.

    Thanks for the great post, Rachelle. I think we all wonder occassionally (read: often) whether we’re good writers or just off our rockers and wasting time.

    We’re only wasting time if we quit.



  72. Nancy S. Thompson on November 1, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    I’m not sure whether that should make me feel better…or worse! No matter. I’m in this for the long haul.



    • Hanna Loren on November 1, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      Self doubt is my worst enemy and it’s a toughie. The key is not to give up especially since writing is a combination of talent and commitment. The best advice I’ve come across recently has really helped although I’m not sure who to credit for it: ‘Write like no one’s judging.’



    • TC Avey on November 1, 2011 at 1:24 PM

      I relate to your sentiment! Good attitude, keep up the hard work and it will pay off!!!