“Why is writing so hard?"
This is arguably the one question universally pondered upon by everyone who’s ever dared to hold a pen, pencil or instrument to express themselves.
Ever been so excited to find a good chair and table so you can sit comfortably and jot down those amazing ideas that popped up a few moments ago before they disappear from the all-knowing brain (just kidding - we humans aren't that smart) only to run out of steam a few hours, or even a few minutes later?
What a big upset that was.
Or perhaps you've been writing a really good story then suddenly your brain bails out on you halfway through a good plot?
Well here's the good news.
You're not alone.
This isn't necessarily an achievement, but you can at least find comfort in knowing that whenever you're stuck on a sentence or a paragraph, or halfway through a story, it's not that you suck at writing. In fact, it happens to the best of us.
When it comes to writing, there are countless reasons why you could find yourself stranded between a rock and a hard place.
For one, it could all depend on your mood, how well you slept last night, and the urgency of the task ahead. Say for example, you're prepping for a school exam tomorrow.
The clock is ticking.
Adrenaline is rushing through your mind and body like a waterfall. Nothing else matters right now because all you care about is hitting that word count goal.
At this rate it will only be a matter of time before you burn out, essentially "running out of words” to write. Some people call this writer's block. But it's much more than that.
And here at Alpha Book Publisher, we'll give you all the main reasons why writing can be really difficult sometimes (like hell! though maybe not as extreme), and how you can overcome them so you can write your way to happiness.
1. Lack of Motivation
One of the biggest obstacles to writing on any topic or genre is whether you like the subject or not. If it's a homework assignment or a college research paper, then chances are you're not going to be giddy up about getting it done. Most people aren't anyway.
How do you solve it?
Start listening to music while you do your homework assignment, or any writing that you find boring. This may sound like bad advice, but so long as you're not singing along you should be fine. What's happening here is that your mind is getting a feel-good moment and this will get your inspiration gears kicking so you can use the best of your imagination. Just make sure not to write anything out of the ordinary for the topic. Like if the paper is about Romeo and Juliet, don't scribble down imagine the dragons.
Naturally tuning into your favorite playlist can really help you focus.
Is the next door neighbor playing video games? Are the pets too loud in the backyard? No problem. Steal your mind away from all the distractions of daily life by putting in some earbuds and enjoying your favorite songs.
Now there are others out there who might agree to disagree.
In March 2018, The Guardian published an article with the following headline: "Drowned in sound: how listening to music hinders learning."
According to the Guardian, researchers from the psychology department of Cardiff Metropolitan University conducted a study on how listening to music affects academic work.
Their main findings?
"Students who revised in quiet environments performed more than 60% better in an exam than their peers who revised while listening to music that had lyrics."
But in related research, the Guardian provides a counter balance to their own article.
"There are some benefits to listening to music while performing certain tasks. It can be quite motivating and it can improve mood (listening to your favourite song tends to make people smile, for example. But it does not help people learn new or complex material."
What the Guardian is telling us here is you're not supposed to listen to music when you're studying for the S.A.Ts or really any exam requiring you to memorize things. Sounds reasonable to me.
The good news here is there's nothing in the study conducted by psychology researchers at the Cardiff Metropolitan University that says you can't or shouldn't listen to music when writing. After all, writing is about expressing yourself; letting information flow out. And studying for an exam is about intake of information that require as few distractions as possible. Totally different scenarios!
In a nutshell, listening to music when writing will boost your imagination. But don't rely on your favorite playlist for studying.
2. Impossible Deadlines
If you're one of those people who like to set impossible goals just to see yourself write (yes, we have those people at the Alpha Publishing Team too), then stop it already. 1,000 words a day for someone who can only spare 2 hours a day from their busy schedule? It's never going to happen.
Not saying that's impossible, but why go through all the trouble of writing something of poor quality when you probably don't even have the time to fix it? You're only producing low-grade material. And if it takes you at least 2 hours to come up with a solid first draft, then it may take you at least another 1-3 hours to polish everything.
Writing huge numbers of words can really boost your ability to express yourself, but it is no easy task. As a writer myself for the Alpha Publishing Team, I churned out 37,000 words for the long stretch of last month. I pushed through it with all the obstacles of an 8-hour day job and turned out with quite an intriguing number of blog posts. Writing however, can have its challenges too. Especially if you’re not used to it.
For some, words come easy and simple. The hard part is coming up with what to write.
There are a wide range of genres available for anyone with a brain to write about. If you're like me, you probably don't mind reading through memoirs and diaries for a moment. There’s an essence in them that motivates me to write better, to incorporate more subtleties, and to pass on my own adventures for others to read and get inspired.
And if you're a gifted person, writing comes naturally for you and probably without a hitch. But for the rest of us, there’s an ongoing battle to churn out more words only to delete them literally a couple of minutes later.
We’re always trying to come up with amazingly awesome sentences that will wow our readers - only to find ourselves stuck from using the same word over and over again. Now I know why humanity came up with a thesaurus.
And when we're unable to come up with a decent filler to continue writing the story, we argue with our brains like a mad scientist on a quest to create the most logical explanation for the most pressing questions. So we turn to dictionaries.
Every once in a while we’re scrolling through them hoping to find the best recipe for our words. We long for being one of those amazingly great writers - the heroes and Shakespearean of our past, but sometimes we find it very difficult. It's almost as if you're cursed for the moment. As if yesterday you were on top of your game and today your writing skills magically stopped functioning.
3. How often are you reading?
So if motivation is not the problem, and if you’re not the kind of writer who makes up impossible deadlines only to fall short almost all the time, then what is it? Why is writing still hard for you?
Then maybe it’s time for you to head to your local public library and start reading.
You: “What’s that, Alpha Publishing Team?” says a random person.
“You heard us right. Read!”
You: “Ok, but I already do that.”
“Then read more.”
And if you're like me 2 years ago, you read others’ work to gain from their innovation of stories using the words you already love.
Reading is a helpful way in learning how to be a great writer. It’s a time-tested experiment. The only problem with this is if you read from only one author over and over again, you will involuntarily pick up the language of this writer and copy it in your own writing inadvertently.
So it’s always best to read from numerous writers and write about many different genres. Challenge yourself with some writing prompts and eventually you could start having fun with the craft and spend less time scratching your head.
In fact, at Alpha Book Publisher, our editors and ghostwriters live by this sword.
The sword of reading that is. Hopefully we don’t die by it. :)
However much time you spend on reading now, and if you’re still having trouble penning up to 2,000 or more words in a day - then you should double your reading time. If you can’t do this, increase your reading time by 50%. If this is still impossible, that’s alright. Even a 10% increase in scrolling through your favorite books will make you a better writer. And for some of us, that’s probably all we need.
Reading takes us on adventures. It’s in the gift of words that will never stop coming in the stories we read and love, passed onto other readers and writers.
Our next segment will be: Why is Writing So Hard? (Part 2).
Before you click on that article though, tell us what brought you to this article. Are you struggling to find your theme in writing? Is there something you learned today that you will put to the test and find out yourself? Share your thoughts with the community :)