Easing the Frustration that Can Stall Your Writing

Easing the Frustration that Can Stall Your Writing


Fellow writers,

It’s so easy to fall into a pit of frustration while working on a writing project. And there are so many things to get frustrated about.

The frustration that comes up the most with the people I’ve worked with is the result of unrealistic expectations. With new writers, there’s often the expectation that an idea will fairly easily become a finished product if the writer just puts in the time. I mean, this is a really good idea! It lights you up from the inside, keeps you up at night. So why can’t you just get it down on paper? What the heck happens to it?

With more experienced writers, the frustration of unrealistic expectations can grow out of the belief that because you’ve done this before (written a novel or a short story or a memoir or a how-to), it will be much easier this time. Well maybe if you’re following a formula, but if you’re trying something new (please try something new) and if you have beginner’s mind (please), well, it might actually be more difficult this time around. Because you’re stretching. Because you’re growing.

You may have experienced writing frustration stemming from other causes, but they all have something in common—a disregard for the first principle of writing:


Writing is a process.


Yep, there are steps: brainstorming, drafting, asking questions, maybe researching, more brainstorming, another draft, more questions, reading an author who does what you’re trying to do, having a conversation with one of your characters, taking notes, taking a walk, reading your work aloud . . .

Note that this is not a linear process.

There’s no formula.

It’s not brainstorm, then draft, then revise, then edit. Done.

If we remember that writing is an iterative process, when we accept this as a given, a natural law (because this is how the human brain works), we won’t slam into a wall as often.

When we’re aware of where we are in the process, aware of what shift in focus or direction we might need to make in order to soothe the silent scream welling up in our throat . . . well, sweet relief.




Reprint of “Something to Consider,” April 10. 2019