Monday, April 11

What Are You Struggling With As a Writer?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

No matter what stage a writer is at, there’s usually something giving them trouble.

If they’re just learning, it’s likely something technical such as show don’t tell, or point of view. It might even be coming up with ideas on what to write about.

Intermediate writers frequently struggle with finding the best way to tell their stories or figuring out what stories are the most marketable. It’s also common to have one or two technical issues that still trip them up.

Experienced writers face that elusive “something” that is keeping them from selling a manuscript or getting an agent—which can range from a technical element to a storytelling issue. These can be particularly frustrating because it’s often hard to know what that “something” is.

And finally, there are the professional writers, who commonly find themselves struggling with productivity and marketing. They’re trying to juggle writing and family in a publishing environment that demands more and more from authors every day, and there are only so many hours in that day.

Last week I asked you about your favorite writing conferences, and this week, I’d like to hear what writing issues keep you up at night.

What are you struggling with as a writer right now?


Over the next few weeks I’ll address as many as I can, and if they happen to fall outside my wheelhouse (such as a genre specific problem in a genre I don’t read or write in), I’ll bring in some extra guest authors to answer them.

Share your struggles in the comments (heck, use this as a chance to talk about issues with those who are also going through it as well), or feel free to email me your question at janice (at) janicehardy (dot) com.

Looking for tips on planning and writing your novel? Check out my book Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a series of self-guided workshops that help you turn your idea into a novel. 

Janice Hardy is the founder of Fiction University, and the author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, where she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those    with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her novels include The Shifter(Picked as one of the 10 Books All Young Georgians Should Read, 2014) Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The first book in her Foundations of Fiction series, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure is out now.

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40 comments:

  1. Writing isn't my biggest struggle. For me, it's building interest in my books. I'm not so good with the marketing and all that :-)

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    1. You are not alone there. This might be a great topic for some of my indie authors to tackle. :)

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  2. At the moment, I'm really having trouble with balancing writing and a full-time job. My job isn't even that hard (I'm an office jockey, basically), but when I get home I'm just so exhausted that it's beyond tempting to zone out for the rest of the evening. I guess I just haven't developed the kind of stamina I need to power through yet, but it's still disheartening.

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    1. I agree. When I come home from work, I have the ability to sit and start writing, but what I lack is the energy and creativity to come up with ideas regarding how to make my characters and plot better. It's very difficult...

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    2. I too am having trouble balancing the daytime (paying) job with the writing I would like to do. I need more help planning out my novel, so I can write when I do have time. That's where your book Planning Your Novel comes in handy!

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    3. Glad PYN is helping! I can do something about this for sure. I've been here (heck, we all have I think), and I've tried multiple ways to mix writing and work.

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  3. Editing. In my memoir I'm figuring out how to deal with the San Francisco/Los Angeles part of my story - after editing down the words and looking at what is included I realize that there isn't much new information - so I'm trying to figure out how to include the relevant information - then do I include the trip out west? It's a challenge - I've used journal entries to post some info. I don't want reader to be cheated or bored. It is important for the reader to know the people I met out there and worked with, and to let the reader realize that I wasted two years being where I wasn't supposed to be.

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    1. Editing I can do. Memoirs are a little tougher since I don't write those, but I do believe I know someone who might write something on topic.

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    2. I'd love to hear what they have to say.

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  4. I'm struggling with getting a story to the finish line. I have a story, I set out a basic plot, write the synopsis, then start the book. Three chapters in and WHAM! A brillant idea for another book so I pause my current WIP to write out the new story's plot, synopsis, etc. Before I know it, I've written several synopses but not so many words. I want to go back and finish the first story but my brain won't seem to let me.
    I'm just beginning my writing career so I'm unclear if this is something all writers struggle with at first or if I need to develop some wrangling skills.

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    1. I have exactly that same problem, or even worse sometimes. A great piece of an idea for another chapter in the same book. Help!
      Gale

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    2. Too many ideas can be just as frustrating as too few. I'll see what I can do here.

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  5. Making characters as compelling in the 2+ draft as they seem to be in my head when I write the 1 draft! Because by the time I go back & read what I've gotten down I'm wondering why anyone would care about this person at all... :(

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    1. A common struggle, so don't feel bad. I'll add this to the list :)

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  6. I'm a newbie in the genre of adult romance and have yet to write actually write a full story yet (just random scenes, so far) and I'm struggling with two things:

    1) Writing from a male POV and NOT making him sound like a teenage boy.

    2) Writing a love scene.

    I was writing YA before I switched genres and my characters never went beyond a kiss. Additionally, I'm addicted to adult romance books and have been reading them since I was a freshman in high school, so I FEEL that I could write a love scene. But I know it's harder than it seems.

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    1. I know some great romance writers who can help with the love scenes, so I'll bring them to help. And I can talk about POV all day, so that's an easy topic :)

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  7. I've written several books. I'm looking for an agent now and struggling with choosing which of my books to focus on. I've written Historical romance, some paranormal historical as well as contemporary romance, and a science fictional romance. I'm working on a YA fantasy right now. I've gotten a few good comments from agents, but I have no idea what's stopping them from offering.

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    1. This is a tough stage (big hugs) so hang in there. I can offer some direction there. Also remember, sometimes it has nothing to do with the quality of the book or the author, but the market itself and what editors are buying.

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  8. I'm struggling with two things - balancing writing and working outside the home much in the same way Whitney mentioned above. The second thing is revisions. I've completed two manuscripts and am working on revising/editing the 1st manuscript, but I feel like a)I've taken the life out of it with the some of the changes and b)the revisions are taking much longer than they should to complete. I've been working on them since January and I still have about 200 more pages to go through. I've read numerous how to articles on editing and revising, but feel it shouldn't be taking this long.

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    1. Some books do take longer, but it's also possible to over-revise a novel. I can talk about this for sure, and I'll also be publishing a book on revision in the next few months. So if the site doesn't get you where you want to be, there's a backup (grin).

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  9. My stories follow a three-act structure and my problem is they consistently top out at a word count lower than 60K. I reach the climax just past the midpoint and before the beginning of the third act. I write women's fiction.

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    1. I tend to write short on first drafts myself, so I can offer some tips here for sure.

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  10. Thank you for taking time to ask about what struggles your readers have. For me, as a beginner writer, it's plot development. I have a million one or two sentence ideas but can't quite get them developed into an outline or a story. :(

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    1. I love plotting, so we'll find a process to get you going :)

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  11. I find I am having trouble with getting my butt into the chair and writing regularly.

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    1. Been there. This one is easier to write about than to do, but we'll get there :)

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  12. Marketing, hands down. Finding the audience for my cross-genre books. I keep hearing the term "finding your tribe," but either my tribe doesn't exist, or I'm just no good at searching.

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    1. It's hard to do, and we all struggle with it. I'll see what I can do to make it a little easier.

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  13. I must be at that intermediate stage - I struggle with the "best" way to tell a story. I'm forever outlining it in new ways, writing a couple chapters, going "nope!", and outlining again. Probably just a process I have to perfect, but it's frustrating nonetheless.

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    1. Understandable. I'll do what I can to help you find a process that keeps your writing.

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  14. I get tangled up two places in stories. One at about page 100 (out of ususally 350) about the end of Act 1, where I get Lost. (I have a loose outline I work from, but...)
    The other place is at the start of the end, where I have to tie off loose ends and make sure I haven't missed anything story-important.

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    1. Another common struggle, so I can help here. :) These issues are always always goal-related.

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  15. I always struggle to judge my own work...no matter how long I let it "sit" when I return to do an edit I still remember it so vividly I know what it's supposed to say, how it should feel and what images I want to convey with my writing... And long story short... I can kill a first draft in no time, but breaking down my own writing is a disaster...

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    1. Very frustrating indeed. Let's see what I can do to help :)

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  16. I'm having trouble deciding on future projects. Though I write Romance, I'm all over the map otherwise when it comes to the secondary genre. Fantasy, paranormal, historical, futuristic, horror... I know I want to start a series, but I'm torn between two or three widely different series' ideas. I'm not sure what criteria to use in order to decide which one to start first.

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    1. More and more writers are going through this as well. I'll see what I can do :)

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  17. I read tons of writing advices and blogs in the last couple of years and I've learned a lot. But I still struggle to sit down and start writing and get going.

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    1. Even the pros have this problem from time to time :) I share a few things that might help soon.

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  18. Some fantastic topics here (thanks guys!), and it looks like I have enough to write about for the next five weeks, so no one will have to wait too long for answers. Many of you had similar struggles, and they're ones that many writers go through--so take comfort that you are not alone in these struggles.

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  19. I've been working on the same story for some years now. I think I may be closer to finishing than I have ever been before, but I still feel as though the plot is missing something. It seems like everything I come up with has already been done. This feeling leaves me discourage. Sometimes it feels like I'll never finish this book. I'm open to any advice on plotting (especially when you hit a wall) and getting to the final page.

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