Challenges of the Writing Life and How to Overcome Them

The decision to commit to a life of writing usually involves a hefty dose of both enthusiastic excitement and existential dread. There’s a good reason why there are so many unfinished manuscripts floating around out there, and anyone who has endeavoured to conquer the task knows all too well the suffering that is inevitably involved.

That being said, the payoff is more than worth the pain if you’re able to stick with it. Being able to find happiness and contentment as a writer is a process that takes time and will involve different coping mechanisms and best practices for each individual. Let’s break down a few of the most universally lamented challenges and how they can be beaten. 

Comparing yourself to others and failing to accept your unique writing process 
In order to remain productive and continue refining your talents over time, it is important to stay true to your unique process of creation. It can be tempting to look at one’s process vis-à-vis other successful writers and experience a feeling of having fallen short. Although there’s nothing wrong with looking to others for inspiration, or with making a concerted effort to build good habits, it is also necessary to embrace your personal, organic writing process. Build your routine around what you trust you’ll be able to sustain over time. Some writers are sprinters and others are long-distance runners—trying to shove yourself into a mould you’re not made for will never serve you in long run. 

Dealing with feelings of isolation and social anxiety 
A solitary activity by its nature, a life spent cooped up alone writing has caused more than a few sharp minds to lose a handle on one or more of their faculties. That’s not to say that too much time spent writing is going to turn you into a raving lunatic, but if you’re going to find real satisfaction in your work overtime it is important to take some steps to help keep yourself balanced. 

Regardless of how passionate you are about your current project, it is always a good idea to take regular breaks and make social encounters a priority. Even if that means joining a writing group to talk about your work, it keeps you connected and will provide a grounding framework. 

Focusing on perfection rather than getting words down on the page
This struggle is all too real, and it often takes years of practice to be able to discern the fine line between wanting to put forth your very best and being shackled by the chains of perfectionism. The stamina to make it through several rounds of editing is an important tool in any writer’s toolbox, but you also need to know when to let go.

Relentless scrutiny can quickly cause one to become overwhelmed and demotivated. In order to avoid getting held up by an obstacle of your own creation, it is necessary to regularly put your work out there and get feedback. This will allow you to continue moving forward without getting stuck in your own head. You can then improve your work based on the response you receive, rather than constantly second-guessing yourself. 

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