You’re Not Alone: 10 Perfectly Normal Struggles Writers Face

Today’s guest post is a fun and helpful infographic by best-selling author Warren Adler. 

I have been lucky as hell making writing a career. But then, one must consider that I did suffer through endless rejections of my work until I was forty-five years old, when I was finally able to interest publishers.

Real writers write because of their artistic need, above all. It is a great and miraculous calling, and its pursuit deserves all of one’s energy and imagination. Without a doubt, there are always struggles along the way, so I thought I’d share a few of my own, which I think are universal.

So here are 10 struggles you might face as a writer, but take courage—you’re not alone.

Which of these ten struggles have you been dealing with? What have you found encourages you in your writing journey?

Warren Adler headshotWarren Adler, acclaimed novelist of more than thirty novels and now proponent of indie publishing, is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and consistently writes about his experience as an independent, self-published eBook author with his own press, Stonehouse Productions. Currently in development for Adler is the Hollywood sequel to The War of the Roses – The War of the Roses: The Children, along with other projects including Capitol Crimes, a television series based on Warren Adler’s Fiona Fitzgerald mystery novels. His new novel, Treadmill, is available here.
Learn more about Warren and his projects on his website here. Follow him here on Twitter and Facebook.

Feature Photo Credit: treehouse1977 via Compfight cc

25 Responses to “You’re Not Alone: 10 Perfectly Normal Struggles Writers Face”

  1. Joe Stephens May 18, 2015 at 3:17 am #

    My struggle right now is that, as an independent, I am doing a lot of things I’ve read I should be doing to build an audience and I just don’t feel like it’s working. I had a launch party for my second book and six people showed up. I know it’s slow, but I’m starting to feel hopeless.

    • Bard Constantine May 20, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

      Join the club. It’s a grueling process, especially when you invest in things like professional editing and eye-catching cover art. But I stick with it because 1) the stories won’t go away, and 2) because I love every aspect of the process. I believe a decent readership is inevitable to those who work at the craftsmanship of writing and persist in their art. For some the wait is just longer than others…

    • Warren Adler May 24, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

      Joe, I feel your stuggle and I have been through insane amounts of rejection myself. I actually contributed an earlier essay to Live Write Thrive called “On Rejection and Renewal” you might really enjoy reading:

      https://www.livewritethrive.com/2014/09/15/on-rejection-and-renewal-a-note-to-aspiring-novelists/

      “For the true novelist…he or she must continue to soldier on, keep writing, keep trying, taking the increasingly painful hits of rejection after rejection until, well, until someone out there catches on…or doesn’t.”

  2. Wendi Nitschmann May 18, 2015 at 5:26 am #

    Great list! I can especially relate to characters wanting to veer off the path I’ve laid out for them and wanting to go their own way, as well as being totally unaware of how the story is going to end. Your thoughts on the subject have eased my writerly mind considerably. Also, thank you for including #9 – constantly rewriting. I find myself paralyzed and unable to continue writing when I feel like there is editing to be done! There’s so much advice on NOT editing until you’re done. I prefer your point of view on it!

  3. Curtis Manges May 18, 2015 at 8:33 am #

    #9 has my name on it. I’ve been rewriting the same novel for about a decade.

  4. Bill Percy May 18, 2015 at 9:07 am #

    Like Joe, my current struggle is with building an author presence and getting my book known. Compared with that, the writing/rewriting (always a joy for me) is heaven! A launch party with only twenty people, a blog (blog.billpercybooks.com), a website (billpercybooks.com), soon a book tour — all on my own! Frustrating, a part of writing I didn’t contemplate when I started, but so necessary. Like many artists, I am more of an introvert, so shameless self-promotion comes hard!

    • Pat W. Kirk (@PatWKirk) May 22, 2015 at 4:44 am #

      True. I’m never happier than when I sit, forgetting where I am as characters take over. Then no one visits my blog, facebook, and twitter blogs. And there is no way I will walk up to a stranger and give the elevator pitch. I hate it when it happens to me. It’s spam in person.

  5. Dianna Gunn May 18, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    To be honest the only one of these I don’t struggle with on at least a semi-regular basis is not knowing the end of my story. Usually by the time I start writing I know roughly what will happen at the end–a final battle, a coronation, whatever it is–but I don’t know for sure if any/all of the side characters will survive the final battle until I’ve written it, or sometimes even rewritten it. Usually I know my main character will survive, but by the time I finish the book, I realize they’re going to suffer because of their victory for the rest of their lives.

    This will make me sound rather cruel, but that’s the kind of ending that makes me feel like I’ve done good.

    • Warren Adler May 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

      Well, you may sound cruel but the fact is, more or less, that life is cruel – I’m on board with your perspective.Mosst

  6. Carrie Lynn Lewis May 18, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    LOL, who hasn’t wrestled with all of these at some point?

    Of those you listed, the one I wrestle with most frequently is #4. Especially when there’s too much month left at the end of the money.

    But my biggest struggle is the constant thought that my writing just isn’t good enough for public consumption. That struggle is never ending, even when one of those on your list is front and center.

    • Warren Adler May 24, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

      Well one things helps me through that insecurity when it hits, Carrie. I never ever let pessimism take full control of me.

  7. Kathy Golden May 18, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    Interesting overview. Fortunately or unfortunately, as the case may be, indie authors don’t have to worry about Struggle #8. I tried the links to Warren’s book and to his website, and neither works.

  8. Kristina Stanley May 18, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    it is helpful to read a list and know you’re not alone in the world of a writer’s struggles. Thanks for sharing.

    • Warren Adler May 24, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

      Kristina, thank YOU for dropping by and commenting. How long have you been writing for?

  9. Kathy May 18, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    I can identify with all the items on your list about the struggles that writers face. One exception is that I don’t worry about the $ as I am retired and have some income to sustain me. That makes me a bit loose about gaining a following as I am more concerned about the finished product. I would still like to see my writing in print so I need to pursue the creation of a blog to highlight my progress.

  10. Annay Dawson May 18, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

    Number ten is for me! Sometimes I just have to stop writing until my characters start to behave.

    • Warren Adler May 24, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

      Annay, my characters can be trips. You have no idea how many times I have to revisit my stories(in different frames of mind) to be absoultely certain I’m okay with dialogue.

  11. Susannah MacDonald May 20, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

    All recognisable angsts. Like Annay’s characters, mine seem to want to be someone else!

  12. Bard Constantine May 20, 2015 at 7:55 pm #

    I always love Warren Adler’s writing advice and shared experiences. I’m well acquainted with most of these, but it’s nice to knew there’s a community going through the same things.

    • Warren Adler May 24, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

      Bard, thanks so much for your kind comment. It’s always incredible to know that there is a community of writers out there keeping the art alive and well. I’m 86 and will never ever stop writing and connecting with the community unless I am absolutely unable to for one unavoidable reason or another.

  13. Elizabeth May 22, 2015 at 6:43 am #

    I have definitly struggled through most of these on a daily basis, it’s encoruagijng to know I’m not the only one. My favorite being one is trying to decide how your book is going to end. i always decide at the last moment how my story will end, letting the characters make the choice for me.

  14. lisa ciarfella May 23, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    Hey Warren,
    I’ve got a question about #9. You said you write five pages a day, then go back the next day and rewrite. From the beginning of the story??? Every day, do you go back and rewrite the entire story, or edit randomly throughout? This seems like a heavy process, but if it works, maybe I’ll try it too. Do the new five pages give you such fresh insight that editing from the start every day is necessary??
    any insight you could share here would be great.
    Personally, I am finding I have to take time off in between drafts….it seems hard to get into the routine and be fresh with the material unless I’ve had a breather.
    Thanks in advance,
    Lisa

  15. Warren Adler May 24, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

    Elizabeth,I knew I wasn’t alone on this one! It sounds a bit possessed and farfetched but the characters we create really do take on a life form all their own. I wrote a piece on this for Huffington Post last year: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/warren-adler/how-a-novel-ends_b_6207866.html

  16. bookshelfbattle June 4, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    I generally find the biggest problem is finding the time. Few are lucky to have people in their lives who respect writing as a worthwhile pursuit. Until you make enough money that you can call it a career, people will have no problem interrupting you and your pleas of “Hey, I’m trying to write here!” will be considered laughable.

    Until you hit it big, then everyone will line up to declare they were behind you the entire time…

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