There are many difficulties of writing fiction. I wanted to take a moment and address the top five that I’ve encountered. There are certainly more than five out there, but these are the main ones that add extra stress to my writing process.
Pay now, get paid back much later.
- This is the most difficult for me. When I build a book, I have to sink a fair amount of time and energy into building it. After that, I need to start sinking money into getting the cover done, editing, and other components. Once the book is complete, I then need to sink money into getting it in the hands of reviewers and into marketing efforts. This all accumulates to a small stream of barely recognizable income. That’s a hard pill to swallow for someone who is used to working in the service industry. In the service industry, you work, you get your full pay a couple weeks later. With writing, you may not even break even for several years. That long term payoff is a really tricky thing to deal with. My suggestion: Look at the time/cost as an investment that pays interest every year.
Believing you need to write while “in-the-zone”.
- When your tired or there is a lot of other things to do, writing may feel like a distant dream. You know you want to write, but you’re worried that writing now would take your precious time and squander it. Perhaps it’s best to only write when you feel excited and exuberant to write? I can tell you that’s wrong. Nearly everything I’ve created I did because of a deadline. If I had waited to be in the mood or zone to write, they would not have gotten done. My suggestion: Make a deadline to help get things moving. Plus a little writing can inspire you to write more.
Editing in all forms.
- This has to be my least favorite activity, but one of the most important. I normally have to take my writing and run it through several filters. If I don’t, I will often miss words and phrases, have awkward components, and will confuse people. Currently, I run my professional writing through a robot read back, Grammarly, and an editor (or two). The hope is that by the end of the process, the book makes sense and is easy to read. That way, the reader is not dragged away from the story by a silly mistake I’ve made. My suggestion: Hire an editor you trust to help smooth the process out.
Slow cooking vs microwave.
- Everyone has a different writing process. Perhaps that’s why when talking about the difficulties of writing, you can only talk about the problems in your own process. One of the ones I have in my process is finding the right mix of slow cooking and microwave. Slow cooking is waiting for inspiration to hit, then quickly writing that down and capturing it in the book. Microwaving is when you have a deadline, so you cook up a plot point fast (it may come out a little dry/bland). One method may have more flavor than the other, but sometimes you can’t beat speed. My suggestion: Mix both approaches. Have a microwave outline and let that simmer for a bit. After a few “aha!” thoughts help even things out, then don’t be afraid to change the plot to be juicier.
Facing a monster plot point.
- Here is a tricky difficulty of writing. You just arrived to a plot point that is crucial and difficult to build. Because you don’t want to dig into this, you avoid or put off writing. I think this stems from a fear of failure. My suggestion: Plan to throw away whatever you write. Call it a practice run if you need to. The idea is that once you start writing, you might be inspired to write more. Having a few practice runs may also help you decide what components need to be included and which ones can be left out.