When you were little, the job of a writer seemed so romantic.
I imagined it being so blissful. Typing the night away on my laptop, somewhere on a wild beach with waves crashing around me.
The gentle hum of the tide sparking in me the perfect adjective for the sentence forming at the tip of my fingers.
I couldn’t even guess what it was like to have a deadline breathing down my neck.
I never thought I would feel my wrists hurt when typing or stress over the slim chances I’ll get canceled for the next word I write.
But it is what it is – for better or for worse, I became a professional writer. Now I get to enjoy both the perks and the nuisances of the job.
So, here are the top 10 problems that writers face on a daily basis.
Writer Problems You’ll Need To Deal With
1. Being Your Own Manager
The job of a writer is to write, right? Right!
Well, not exactly. Between marketing, pitching, client and publisher meetings, budgeting, and juggling all of your projects, it can feel like you never get the time to actually sit down and write.
Managing a business is a full-time job, yet most writers need to do it all (albeit usually on a small scale) in addition to their writing work. Besides, it’s pretty tough to feel all fresh and creative after all of that admin work.
There are a couple of things you can do to boost your writing productivity:
- Organize your time better to set up a regular writing schedule (easier said than done, I know!)
- Hire a virtual assistant to take some load off your back
- Write whenever the inspiration hits, even if you need to do it on your phone
2. Unsteady and Unpredictable Workflow
More often than not, writers (just like other types of artists) don’t get positions with regular workloads and steady pay.
Instead, you learn to live from project to project in a seemingly never-ending feast and famine cycle.
Finding an in-house position at an agency is among the very few reliable ways to prevent this completely.
But you don’t have to settle for a nine-to-five job to get some financial stability.
Instead, you can:
- Pay yourself a salary, and save the rest for a rainy day or invest it in your business
- Invest more time and money into marketing your services and pitching to potential clients
- Set up an affiliate and ad revenue system on your blog
- Earn some extra money by freelance writing in one of the most lucrative niches
3. Looming Deadlines
Chances are that you have a deadline just around the corner at this very moment.
I sure do. In fact, I’m already a bit overdue with this very article.
It doesn’t matter how well you plan your time, something can always get in the way.
Whether your refrigerator broke down, your babysitter canceled, you underestimated the scope of work, or you simply couldn’t get yourself to get started in time, keeping deadlines is tough.
Honestly, I wasted so much time trying to “get organized” instead of just sitting down to work.
I don’t think an organization app or a calendar can solve the deadline problem. Just get started. Now. Or right after you finish reading this article and make yourself a cup of tea.
4. Never-ending Research
Whether you’re writing about the best brands that make pencils, world-building for your novel, or going through academic papers for your essay, doing your research well is important.
I consider research half the job.
However, there is such a thing as too much research. It’s okay to want to know more and get prepared better.
But it’s also very easy to get stuck in the research phase and delay writing a single word until the very last moment (at which point missing the deadline is a certain thing).
Another common issue is that research notes quickly become messy.
If going through your research notes gives you headaches, a word processor designed for elaborate writing projects like Scrivener might be the right solution!
5. Elusive Words
Sometimes the perfect word is at the tip of your tongue, but you just can’t seem to pinpoint what exactly it is.
Usually, it leaves me in a downward spiral of Googling synonyms and scouring Thesaurus.
Sometimes, I just leave some blank space for the word – just make sure you remember to go back to it before turning your work in!
Don’t allow that single elusive word to take over your work and stop you from going forward with your writing.
Perhaps that perfect word doesn’t exist. Sometimes you just have to settle for a similar, less glamorous word. For as long as it gets the job done!
6. The Pressing Issue of Dirty Dishes
Procrastination is not a uniquely writers’ problem, but I’ve seldom met a writer who didn’t struggle with it.
Getting started can simply be so tough.
But really, how do you focus on writing when you need to organize your to-do list, the dishes are dirty, and there are so many social media posts you haven’t read yet?
Psychologists describe many reasons people procrastinate, and perfectionism and feeling overwhelmed at the size of the task are among the top culprits.
That’s why there are a few quite effective ways to help you just get started:
- Instead of focusing on everything that needs to be done, pinpoints a simple, small task that you can complete quickly. Breaking down the job into several smaller tasks will make it seem far less overwhelmingly huge.
- Try the Pomodoro technique. All you need to do is commit to working for just 25 minutes. The short period seems like nothing, which at the same time makes it feel more doable.
- Set yourself a writing schedule. Nothing beats routine.
- Purge your distractions with a social media blocker, or turn off your internet entirely.
7. Lacking Time for Your Passion Project
Everyone has to make a living. But if writing is a labor of love for you, chances are that you have that one project that’s just yours.
However, it seems like you have to wait for the stars to align to get both the time and the inspiration to work on it.
While it may not bring food to the table, your passion project is no less important than your paid gigs.
After all, a few years later you may not even remember the work you did for money, but you will surely appreciate the fact that you took the time to devote to your novel/blog/book club. That is one thing that you want to be remembered by.
Do at least a little bit whenever you get the chance. Even if it’s just half an hour a week, working on a project you’re passionate about will leave you feeling happier and more fulfilled in your career as a writer.
8. Impostor Syndrome
If you ever had the chance to put your work in front of many people, you know that insecurity can feel crippling.
What if your work sucks? What if they hate it? What if you never get another client?
Questions like these can bother everybody, no matter how objectively brilliant the person’s work is.
Dealing with the impostor syndrome – the feeling that you don’t deserve the gigs/money/praise you get for your work – can be super tough.
It can leave many people frozen, unable to move forward and continue creating.
It’s important to remember that this feeling is not real. Impostor syndrome is lying to you.
I’m sure some people claim your work is amazing. If you don’t trust the praise of your friends, ask yourself this:
Do you think your client is stupid? Of course not. Then why would they, a smart, reasonable person, be paying YOU, and not some other writer, to do the work?
Because you bring them the value that they seek.
9. The Fear of Getting Canceled
Cancel culture is a thing. For better or for worse, people lose careers due to both accidental and intentional insensitivity.
Whether you create content for online or offline publishing, the public is likely to scrutinize every single word you write. Even worse – more often than not, people get canceled because their words were taken out of context.
This makes writers feel like they’re constantly walking on thin ice. Even if you know you are NOT and never have been a bigot, it can still cause you a lot of unnecessary stress.
It can make you over-censor yourself, to the point your writing sounds unnatural.
It’s important not to succumb to the fear of choosing the wrong word and getting canceled. As writers, we must be our authentic selves – even though that can be terrifying. You do you – and for as long as your intentions are pure, you’ll be just fine.
10. Wrist Pain
Last but not least, carpal tunnel syndrome can be a literal pain for anybody who spends prolonged periods using the keyboard and the mouse.
Also known as median nerve compression, the condition appears with prolonged pressure on your median nerve that runs through your arm and wrist.
The symptoms include numbness and tingling in your hand, and sometimes it can be downright painful to type.
Luckily, there are ways to prevent and remedy the condition:
When typing, make sure your wrists aren’t positioned below your fingers. Don’t rest your wrists on the desk – use your elbows for support, and keep your wrists elevated.
Stretch your hands and arms regularly, especially before and after typing.