6 Familiar Creative Struggles and how to conquer them!

Beginning your journey as a writer is new and exciting but it has it’s challenges too and learning how to conquer any creative struggles that will pop up is essential to a long author career.

Every author has faced obstacles in their writing lives—rejection, self-doubt, criticism, or something else. Doubts and imposter syndrome: “What if my novel isn’t good enough?” have plagued the best of them. When good writers read great books with complex characters and fantastic plot arcs—books so engrossing they can’t put them down—they compare their our novels to those bestselling books. “Why would someone read my story when that author’s book is much better?

But that’s the thing. If you look at those authors, they’ve been writing for what—ten years? Now they have a publishing contract, an editor, beta readers, and others to support them in their work. But they had the same doubts and fears when they first started writing. They all faced struggles.

Today, let’s tackle those doubts, fears and struggles head-on.

STRUGGLE #1: YOU FEAR YOUR WORK ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH

You re-read your manuscript, and you think it’s lacking in everything. In fact, you think it’s just plain terrible. You’re about to throw it in the bin when…

Stop! Don’t throw it in the bin. Not yet. Let me tell you something. Is this your first novel? Okay, here’s the thing: Nearly every author’s first novel is terrible. You just started. I hate to break it to you, but your book will not be perfect on the first try. You have to revise.

Maybe it’s so bad you think it can’t be revised. That’s perfectly okay. Just sit down and work out what’s wrong with your novel.

  • Are your characters too clichéd?
  • Is your plot gripping?
  • Does the story hold the reader’s interest?

Target what’s wrong with your work, and make a plan to fix it.

Turn doubt into action.

STRUGGLE #2: YOU RUN INTO WRITER’S BLOCK

You’re stuck. You bang your head against the table, but no ideas come. Hey! Stop banging your head against the table, please. You’re going to give yourself a headache.

Okay, so you’ve run out of ideas.

What is your plot? Do you even have a plot? Think about what you’re writing. Are you writing a horror story? Fantasy? Romance? Sci-fi?

Do something that inspires you:

  • If you write horror, walk at night when it’s windy, and no stars shine through the clouds.
  • If you write fantasy, think about your hero. What is their goal? What keeps them from reaching that goal?
  • If you write romance, go to the park and people-watch. Observe a couple’s argument. What are they arguing about? Why are they arguing? Is it about something silly, like why all the pigeons are gathered around them, or something serious, like relationship issues?
  • If you write science fiction, consider science. You’re writing a book about clones taking over the world. Research cloning. How would it really work? What if there was some sort of mutation?

For all of the above, go somewhere that helps you get new ideas. Take a break from the computer (or notebook, if you write the old-fashioned way) and go on a walk or a drive. Go somewhere that makes you happy or sad or inspired. Go to a place that stirs strong emotions in you.

STRUGGLE #3: YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE INSPIRATION

You have a flash of inspiration. An image of a person, maybe, or an emotion you need to write about.

Figure out how you can work this into your story.

What was this person like? A long scar down her cheek? What was her personality like? Secretive, cold, standoffish? Would this be one of your secondary characters or a main character? When, where, and how can you put this in your story?

Write it down and determine where to use it in your novel.

STRUGGLE #4: YOU’RE NO LONGER FEELING INSPIRED

Your bolt of inspiration has fizzled out. Now you’re left with 30 pages of work that you don’t know what to do with. It’s okay. Don’t panic.

Try to work on your plot.

Figure out what’s going to happen next. Are your characters kidnapped? Do they have to figure out a puzzle?

It may help to consider how you’ll develop your characters instead.

What kind of journey does your character go on? How do they change throughout the story? What struggles do they have to overcome?

STRUGGLE #5: YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET STARTED

You have great ideas and are ready to start writing — but you have no idea how to draft your book’s beginning. This is something I can relate to. Let me give you some advice: You don’t need to start at the beginning. Wait, what? But when I read a book, the beginning comes first…

Well, duh. But you don’t need to start writing there. You can even write from end to beginning if that’s your preference.

My advice?

Start with the scene that energizes you the most. Excited about your story’s climax? Write that first. Don’t worry about the beginning. Start writing at the place or scene that calls to you.

Alternatively, take my free course: First Thing’s First. Let me help you get started.

STRUGGLE #6: YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE REJECTION

This is one of the biggest struggles!

Your novel is finished. You worked hard, poured your heart and soul into it, cried many tears, and were almost bald from pulling so much hair out from the stress. You send it to an agent. A month later, you get a form letter addressed to “dear writer.”

Take a deep breath.

I know you probably cried your eyes out at seeing that letter. I know it hurts. You may want to give up and never send your manuscript to another agent again. You’re hurting, and that’s okay. Go ahead. Cry your eyes out. There’s absolutely no shame in it..

Okay, now listen to me. No author gets it easy. Every author, including JK Rowling and James Patterson, has received rejection letters. I know one author who received 98 rejection letters before he became traditionally published. 98!

You must define where you went wrong if you receive a rejection letter. Was your query not enticing enough? Is your story’s hook lacking? Did the agent no longer want submissions for stories in your genre? If you can take action, do so. Allow rejection to refine your work.

Final word

Writing is hard. I think we’ve all learned this. If it were easy, everyone would do it. You’re different from other people, though. You may write to entertain people. That may be one of your reasons, but you write because you have a voice that others don’t. You can speak for those who can’t.

Every word you write, sentence, and paragraph can change people with what you write. You don’t have to write non-fiction to do that. You can inspire people. Your characters can be the ones readers turn to in times of struggle. And that, is what every writer strives to achieve. You’ll get there. You can get published. You just need to believe in yourself.

I’m here to help with any of your struggles, contact me.