Gandhi once said that in reality there are just as many religions as there are people.
Likewise, when it comes to writing, there are just as many obstacles to finishing a writing project as there are writers and authors.
Each writer brings their own personality and set of circumstances to their writing desk, which either work in favour of completing their manuscript or act against it. There are, however, 3 common obstacles or challenges that face all wordsmiths:
Although there are many more challenges to writing than these, I’ve found again and again through my publishing business and mentoring program that issues with lack of time, commitment to the process of writing, and investment of capital into their project are the most commonly occurring issues affecting writers.
Let’s now discuss each of these obstacles in turn in relation to how they affect writing outcomes and how you can plan to circumnavigate them and achieve your writing goals.
1: No Time!
Writers and authors are not immune to our modern-day hectic lifestyle. Life seems to get in the way and trip us up when all we want to do is sit down at our desk and start typing. Work, family, friends, and other social commitments chip away, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, at our most finite of resources – time.
Good time management is therefore imperative when it comes to writing. As such, setting writing goals for the day, week, month, and even a year is a great tool to wrench back stolen time and ensure you finish the manuscript you’ve planned to write.
Goals, especially writing goals, do more than just set a target. As the acronym GOALS suggest, they:
- Generate motivation
- Overcome obstacles
- Account for action
- Leverage time, money, resources, and effort
- Specify time frames
One of the easiest writing goals to set is word count goals. Some writers can, like Stephen King, write 2,000 words per day. In 1 week, that’s 10,000 words. A 100,000-word novel can be written in 10 weeks or about 3 months. That’s great going.
Most writers, however, are more comfortable with 500 – 1,000 words per day. That’s still 5,000 words per week and a 100,000-word novel finished in under 6 months. That’s still very good going.
Nonetheless, part of setting word count goals involves allocating time to do it. This is where a lot of writers fall down and ultimately fail to reach their writing goals. As with any endeavour, time must be allocated to do your writing. I personally set the time of 6am – 8am each weekday morning to write. I also set myself a word count goal of 500 each day. Some days I struggle to get out of bed and write the 500 words, but most mornings I actually surpass my goals, even up to 2,000 words on a good day.
Whatever time suits you best – morning, afternoon, evening, night time – make it a routine, a habit, to sit down at your keyboard and finish your word count goal. Protect that time too. Protect it from distractions, from interruptions, such as answering emails or phone calls. Let your family know this is your time to write and only interrupt you in the case of an emergency.
Setting word count goals and allocating a protected time-slot each day are great ways to overcoming one of the biggest obstacles to writing – time!
2: No Commitment!
The power of setting goals such as the number of words to write per day or per week comes from holding yourself accountable to achieving that word count. If you’re not held accountable to completing what you say you’ll do, chances are that you’ll let it slide and the writing goals you’ve set yourself take longer and longer to complete, if at all.
Unless you have a writing coach to hold you accountable to your goals, however, you will have to do it yourself. The key, therefore, is discipline. Set yourself a set amount of words to write per day or per week and be disciplined in doing it.
The most disciplined writers are the most committed writers. They are committed to their writing as if it were a cause. They have a reason to keep writing, a purpose for which they believe in.
As a writer, you must ask yourself how serious you are about your writing. I find many writers love the dream of becoming a bestselling author, but most lack the drive and determination needed to succeed in their chosen craft. Some writers love the idea of finally writing the book they’ve always said they’d write, but lack the motivation to keep writing after they’ve hit the ‘Writer’s Wall’, when they’ve run out of ideas and energy to keep the momentum moving forward.
As a writer, is your writing just a hobby? Or is it something more? Do you have a cause to write for, a reason to commit yourself to the daily routine of writing no matter what else is going on around you?
The answer will determine how disciplined you are at achieving the writing goals you set yourself and the level of success you achieve as a writer.
3: No Investment!
There’s a running joke in investor circles that goes something like this: Investing in the share market is like the difference between bacon and eggs: the chicken has a vested interest but the pig is committed.
Writing, too, is like investing in the share market. If you only have a vested interest in how things turn out, like the chicken, then success or failure is only of mild significance. The outcome doesn’t really affect you. You can ride the highs and lows. It’s just petty change you can afford to lose.
Commitment, however – like the pig in a bacon and eggs breakfast – means the result is of extreme importance. Everything is riding on whether or not you succeed in your endeavours. It’s all or nothing, do or die.
Investment in your writing isn’t just about paying for an editor to appraise your manuscript and suggest changes to its structure, grammar and character development. It’s more than paying for a proofreader to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and to make sure you’ve found every typo and misspelled word in your manuscript. Investment in your writing involves a commitment of self.
When you introduce yourself to others, what do you say? Do you say, ‘Oh, I’m thinking of writing a book, but I haven’t started yet. I’m going to one day, though.’ Then you’re not a writer. You’re a ‘gunna’. You’re gunna write a book one day. Gunnas think they’re writers, but they only fool themselves. Gunnas are always gunnas; they usually stay that way until the day they die. Some may become hobby writers, but very few transition into actually being a writer of substance.
That’s because gunnas are like chickens, with a vested interest in writing but with no commitment. They haven’t – nor likely will – had the courage to invest them self in their dream. The outcome is neither here nor there. It doesn’t really matter.
A true writer, however, has invested their all, their very being, in their writing. They introduce themselves as a writer, not a gunna. They think, live, eat, breath writing. Writing is not a hobby; it’s a way of life. It’s who they are. And the outcome of their writing very much matters.
The question to ask yourself is therefore: how much have you invested in your writing?
So, to overcome the 3 biggest obstacles to finishing your writing project, remember to:
- Allocate protected time each day or week to complete your word count goals
- Commit to your writing as if it were a cause to fight for
- Invest your whole self in your writing – make it who you are so that you can say to everyone you meet: ‘I am a writer!’
*This article first appeared on ContentPlexus.com and is re-published with permission.
‘Remember, success like writing is a habit’
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