Lisa Tener is this week’s podcast interview. Live tomorrow, find the details here, or watch the replay later.Lisa Tener

How to Overcome the 7 Most Common Writing Struggles

Writing is one of the most rewarding activities I know—the joy of putting your wisdom, experiences and gift into words in creative ways, the fulfillment in sharing and making a difference for others, the pride of publishing, the elation of traveling the writing path to learn more and go deeper and expand your consciousness as you write…and the many gifts inherent in following a creative path all make this a powerful way to spend your time.

And yet, it can be one of the most challenging and scary activities as well. It can feel overwhelming, lonely and even trigger critical feelings about yourself. In today’s post, we’ll address the most common writing struggles with empowering strategies to move beyond the challenges and experience a breakthrough.

Here goes!

Struggle #1: No Time to Write

You’re not alone if you struggle with making time—and feel like you don’t have enough of it. But even the busiest of people can find time to write their book. Really.

Solutions: You need to get your butt in the chair and just do it. What can help? Reconnect with your passion and reasons for writing.

Then schedule the writing time into your calendar with specific dates, locations and times.
Too much on your plate? Unless you’re a wizard with magical powers to stretch time, you’ll need to clear some commitments off your plate or delegate so you can create the time and space for writing. This needs to come before scheduling time or you’re likely to just berate yourself over not making it.

Struggle #2: Feeling Uninspired

You actually sit butt in said chair but nothing comes.

Solution: Do you have an outline or structure? With a strong outline, you don’t actually need to write things in order. Go where you feel most inspired and work from your outline.
If you still don’t feel inspired, try a writing prompt and use the prompt exercise as a gateway into a state of flow for your bigger writing project. Or maybe the prompt will even inspire a new project.

Struggle #3: Feeling Overwhelmed

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re in good company. The bigger the project, the more likely you are to feel overwhelmed at some point.

Solution: Break the work up into smaller phases or steps. (“Bird by Bird,” as Anne Lamott would say).

An outline helps here, too.

Struggle #4: Self-doubt, “Not Good Enough” or Imposter Syndrome

Most writers experience some form of self-doubt from time to time (or even consistently).

Solution: You need to let go of that critical voice – thank it for its opinion and move on by shifting your attention from performance to being of service.

Remind yourself why you want to write. Get in touch with the transformation you’re making possible for your readers. When you take the emphasis off you and whether you’ll look bad (an ego and fear-based problem) and focus on the difference you want to make for your readers, you’ll find it easier to write.

If you question the value of what you’re writing about, remind yourself what knowledge, wisdom and skills you have that can help your readers.

Struggle #5: Deflated by Your Writing

You put so much of yourself into your writing. When you hate what you write it can feel dejected. “Why am I even writing a book?” “My writing sucks.” Critical self-talk takes the wind right out of your sails. Instead, you’ll need blow away that critic. Here are some ideas to make the writing better and gain confidence.

Solutions: First, don’t judge yourself or your writing early on in the process. There will be time to critique, polish and get support later. But first you need to create in a safe space where you’re compassionate with yourself and don’t put pressure on yourself, which will only dampen your creativity.

Imagine writing to one reader in your target market. It could be a real person (your aunt, nephew or a recent client, for example) or an imaginary person you create in your mind (or on the pages of your journal). When you imagine writing a letter to that person, rather than writing to a vague mass of people or a large audience, the writing automatically becomes more intimate and specific. You may see a marked difference from that one change alone.

It’s also important to realize that your first (or second or third) draft is not the final product. You’ll be getting input from beta readers and an editor or two. So, if you’re on a first rough draft, give yourself permission to write something that stinks. You’ll make it amazing when you edit – and I have lots of editing advice to help you do that.

Another option is to get into a playful mood. Consider the writing an experiment. Remain curious to see how it goes. No pressure, dude.

If you’re worried about your writing skills (as opposed to your credentials for writing about this specific topic), remember that you can hire an editor to help you polish the writing later.

Struggle #6 Feeling Lost or Overwhelmed

One type of overwhelm happens when you don’t have a sense of the structure or scope of your writing.

Solutions: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a strong outline can help you overcome this lost feeling and get a sense of your bearings. Your outline may change. You may feel unsure of it. It doesn’t matter. Just work with it, or let it change. Just having an outline, no matter how dynamic it is, should help you feel more grounded.

If scope is the issue, consider whether your book is too ambitious in scope. Are you trying to capture more than one target market? If yes, that’s a no-no. Maybe you have more than one book in you? Figure out what belongs and what’s to be put aside for the next book. You can even create a file for that so you can capture the ideas but remain focused on the current book.

Consider, too, what your target market most needs and wants; trying to give them everything on the topic may not just make you feel lost, but it may overwhelm your readers as well. “Less is more” rings true! Save some of the details for a paid course or another next step your readers can take when they finish reading your book.

Struggle #7: The Loneliness of Writing

It’s easy to downplay the loneliness of writing. We often think something along the lines of, “If I were truly a writer, I should be able to write any time, regardless of the circumstances.
The truth is that it can be hard to maintain momentum if it’s all up to you. Most people need more support than that (especially some of the most successful writers). Support can mean:

• Community: The Nonfiction Authors Association is a place where you share supportive community with other writers. In addition to a vibrant Facebook group, you’ll find many classes, workshops and other ways to both learn and connect in community. You can also create or find additional community by gathering with friends to write, starting a writing or critique group through your local library or checking out various communities starting with Facebook Groups such as the Nonfiction Authors Association (you’ll need to be a member to join that group, but membership is free when you sign up for the conference).

• Writing Conferences, Courses and Programs: Hopefully, you’re signed up for the Nonfiction Writers Conference—a great place to learn more, hone skills and get community. As to courses, the Nonfiction Authors Association is a powerful place to get training of all sorts—from writing to publishing to book marketing. Many of the Nonfiction Writers Conference presenters offer additional training, as well.

• Coaching and Editing: Getting professional guidance and assistance will help you become a better writer, polish your current work and also feel supported—you’re not doing it all alone. Ever read the acknowledgements at the beginning or end of a book? Notice how many people have supported that author, including professional? The most successful authors tend to reach out for support.

• A Writing Buddy/Partner: In my writing programs, I give participants the option to choose a writing partner to meet with weekly and answer 5 questions to stay on track: 1) What did I commit to? 2) What have I actually done? 3) What worked? 4) With didn’t work? 5) What’s next? No need to coach each other. These simple questions avoid excuses or long stories and just focus on the facts. The answer to “What’s next?” comes out of doing more of what worked and problem-solving for what didn’t work. Simple and effective. Try it!

I hope this post helps you with any challenges you’re facing.

Author Bio:

A frequent presenter for the Nonfiction Writers Conference, book coach Lisa Tener specializes in helping entrepreneurs, experts and visionaries write and publish a compelling how-to, self-help, health or business book. Lisa’s clients have signed 5- and 6-figure publishing deals with top publishers, as well as helped authors self-publish to great acclaim and prestigious awards. Lisa’s most recent book, The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day, has won 5 prestigious book awards including the Nautilus, IPPY and Ben Franklin Awards. You can find out more about Lisa at

Lisa Tener is this week’s podcast interview. Live tomorrow, find the details here, or watch the replay later.