Roadblocks in Writing

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Authors don't agree with each other on many things. But there's one thing all authors and writers will universally agree as they burn midnight oil and crunch paper after paper in frustration or bang their heads against their laptops or desktops so to say, 'Writing is hard!"

So now, let's ask the most valid question of all, "Why?"

1. Writing is a Choice
The simple answer to this is that every writer, author or story teller makes a choice; a decision. A decision on behalf of the story, its characters, the words used, the words omitted. It is an immense responsibility. And not everybody is ready to share that burden physically or mentally.

2. No Roadmap in Mind
Can you reach a particular destination without knowing the route to that place, a companion beside you who knows the route, a map or GPS that leads you there? The very obvious answer is "No!"

This aimless ramble might take you somewhere out there but definitely not to the destination you wish to reach. If by luck or fluke you end up reaching once in your life, it won't happen again.

Sometimes authors jump into a story without a roadmap to their story in mind. This isn't about plotting or pantsing. Plotters might be more methodical in their planning while pantsers plan in their mind or on the go. But the truth remains that an author plans either way. If an author skips this vital step of the writing process, he/she is definitely going to hit a roadblock at some stage or the other. The only solution to this problem is to plan properly.

3. Jumping from Level 2 to Level 20 of the Writing Game
Writing is like any other game and all writers are playing at different skill levels. Supposing a beginning level or writing novice attempts to clear Level 3 of this game bypassing Level 1 and Level 2; though not advisable, they might manage to pull it off.

But just imagine, what would happen if a writer at Level 2 of the writing game suddenly decides that he/ she is ready for Level 20? They are merely going to fall flat trying to bite off more than they can chew.

There is no shame and embarrassment in acknowledging that every writer is playing at different stages of this writing game. One day, the writers who are in Level 2 might actually make it to Level 20. Or they might hit their personal ceiling at Level 7. Every writer should give himself/ herself the time and opportunity to upgrade their skills set, evolve and graduate through all those writing levels.

4. Procrastination
The amount of time available to any person is limited. There are numerous things in the outside world  that clamor for attention. The priority list of things to be done before writing always keeps on extending. And many authors keep procrastinating instead of actually writing something.

A writer or author should always try to focus on writing in the limited amount of time available and complete their writing goals satisfactorily. There should not be any outside distractions that disturb their writing schedule. Even if there are, they should be able to manage them.

5. Lack of resources
Just like any other human activity, writing requires certain resources like say a laptop, a certain kind of writing software, a Wi-Fi connection, sources of information, books on the writing craft, and so on. Some might be absolute essentials while the rest might be a bit dispensable. The needs might differ from writer to writer. However, the lack of these resources will severely impede the writing output of any writer. It is imperative that every author figures out what are the resources they need and plan ahead of time so that they do not encounter a roadblock at a later stage while writing.

6. Getting stuck at one point
Aspiring for perfection is a good thing. But it should also be coupled with the realization that nothing in life can be truly and fully perfect including writing. There is one point where every author has to simply put a full stop and stop worrying about what they wrote. Perfectionists often get stuck at one point. They end up doing and redoing things endlessly. They are never satisfied with what they have written. Their writing takes so much time in the works and the end result is often not worth spending that much time or effort.

7. Being all over the place
A few writers try to please everyone on this planet by doing everything within the same story. They mix and mash up genres, subgenres, themes, tropes and cliches that are completely incompatible with each other. They try to tick all the boxes and are all over the place. Their stories make no sense whatsoever.

8. Underestimating one's own abilities or being too diffident
A few writers just refuse to believe in themselves and their abilities even when they are doing a fairly decent job. They think too low about themselves and their skills. Even when their readers are very encouraging and forthcoming, their own critical eye will not allow them to bask in the glory. They will self-criticize and self- loath their own story just because nobody else is criticizing it.

9. Giving too much credence to destructive criticism
Every writer is bound to face some sort of criticism, both constructive and destructive at some stage or the other of their career. A few writers find themselves crippled by the slightest amount of negative criticism. Critics are as much entitled to their opinion as an author is to his/ her story. There will be negative reviews to any book, even the best. The fear of criticism should never hold back a writer from writing the story he/ she badly wants to tell.

10. Constantly hankering for praise and positive reaffirmation
Good writers are always bound to receive praise and positive reaffirmation for their hard work and talent. But the praises should never become an end in itself. A good writer will always write for the love of writing and story telling and not just for the sake of praises.

It is difficult to sustain oneself in a highly competitive career like writing just on the basis of praises and adulation. There is no saying when the praises and appreciation may dry up. What keeps a writer going in difficult circumstances  like that is his/ her own self- belief and passion for writing.

Similarly, there are occasions when writers don't receive immediate positive reaffirmation , recognition or appreciation despite their very best efforts. This shouldn't dishearten them either. A writer's feet should be firmly on the ground and their imagination should soar to the skies.  

Creating something out of nothing is hard as it is. Writers don't need to add to their woes by falling into these pitfalls. Can you think of any new pitfalls a writer might encounter during the writing process? Please share your views and opinions with me.

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