Why Writing is Hard



by Meg Dowell


Writing is hard.

You know this without having to convince yourself it’s true. You may love it – it may be your art; your love; your baby – but that doesn’t mean there are days it doesn’t take all you have left in you to drag yourself to your laptop and write something. Writing isn’t easy. Sometimes it feels like the words are flowing from your fingers and they’ll never stop – but not long afterward, you’re staring at your empty coffee cup, in a daze, as if you can’t believe you just wrote 2,000 words without thinking twice about it.

The truth: you’re always thinking, even during a flow state. And that’s the downside. That’s where things get complicated.

I’m not a brain expert. But this is the most simplified way I could force myself to explain this. Why? Because I’m tired. Writing is hard. We’ve been over this.

Have you ever thought – really thought – about what writing is? It’s not just thinking. It’s not just a mindless transferring of ideas from a brain onto a page. You are literally recognizing and selecting a particular thought, analyzing it, figuring out the best way to use written language to interpret and translate it, and then you are actively using real words to convey what was, only seconds ago, an abstract thought only you could read.

You’re doing all that … in seconds. No wonder you’re addicted to coffee and chocolate bars.

Writing is work. Really hard work. Even those who boast that writing comes easily to them get tired. That process of interpreting and translating ideas into words may happen more quickly for some than others, some may struggle or have fewer bursts of brain rush or may have a hard time motivating themselves to sit down and do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s less of a chore for one person than it is another. We’re all human. Our brains all run on the same energy sources and have that energy depleted over and over again throughout the day.

THAT’S why writing is hard. Because we’re just people. No matter how many ideas we might have, no matter how naturally creative we might be – no matter how much we might love to write, and need to write for the purposes of our own happiness and sanity – we can’t write without consequence. There will always come a point where we just don’t have it in us to write at a particular moment.

That’s not the end of the world. That’s just life.

You should never feel guilty about feeling tired. You should never feel bad for saying writing is hard, regardless of how many people might fire back at you with how “easy” a job as a writer must be. People who assume writing is easy clearly lack the true experience of a writer – that experience that is, sitting at your desk, knowing what you are trying to say, frustrated because the words won’t come out right, but trying to push through it anyway to create something others may one day benefit from and/or appreciate.

All that said, there also comes a point at which you must continue on. It’s one thing to feel weary, let yourself rest and give yourself time to ease back into business as usual. It’s another to let that set you off your intended writing course completely. You have to keep going. You have to be able to recognize when you’ve pushed yourself too far, back down, and then jump back into writing as soon as you can. That’s discipline. That’s resilience.

Yes, writing is hard. But you’re tough. You’re strong. You want this. So you can’t just quit. Your ideas need you. Don’t abandon them. Let them carry you through the toughest days, those days coffee won’t help and you can’t keep your eyes open and you just want to take a nap. It’s going to be worth it. All the sacrifices you’re making, you’ll be grateful for them later. You can’t picture that in your head now, but believe it. Challenges are what help you grow. Growth is how aspiring writers establish careers as successful professionals. You’ll get there. You can do this.





Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

43 thoughts on “Why Writing is Hard

    1. Thank you – this was really encouraging as I am in a very deep valley today. I loved the phrase “your ideas need you”. That was quite powerful. I think every writer can relate to what you wrote. Thanks for your thoughts.


  1. For me, writing is the hardest when I know the ending. It’s easy to figure out the setup and the conclusion, but figuring out that middle part is always a major killer. Was recently stuck for a week trying to figure out a segment on a script that once figured out, only amounted to about 20 pages.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The middle is probably the most difficult part. You know where your characters start and where they end up … but how do they get there? I’ve found that sometimes you just have to start writing and see what happens. Not knowing where you’re going is frustrating, but usually, it turns into something you never expected, and it’s awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Perfect person for me today. I had to write a scene to took a week. It was so hard. But I made it through I think, after which I got violently ill for a few hours. ☺️ Feeling better though! Can’t wait to start all over again with the next scene! I even love the pain! I’ve been loving the pain since I was three. Wouldn’t want to do anything else in the world.


  3. Yes, writing is hard and sometimes, I just don’t have it in me. I always feel a little guilty when I see other writers preaching something to the tune of one isn’t a writer unless one writes ALL the time. That’s not to say I encourage being lackadaisical… just as you said, we have to acknowledge that we are all human and sometimes, even the things we love take their toll. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A writer is someone who makes the effort to write – how often doesn’t matter as much as that there is an honest attempt, even if it’s not good or every day! Trying is better than not. Sometimes you can’t do it – I’m even struggling with that right now – and that’s OK. It doesn’t make you any “less” of a writer, it just means you have a different schedule and timeline than others.


  4. The great thing about writing is that each story doesn’t get harder as it goes along: the beginning is the hardest part. Once you’ve got something, you have more to work with. That’s the true test of a writer; if they can get past the hard beginning, instead of starting with an easy beginning and giving up later. Giving up becomes a less appealing opportunity with each draft, because each draft makes the story better. Sometimes I can’t get a jigsaw puzzle, even though there’s only one way to do it. Sometimes I’ll struggle with crosswords, even though there’s only one way to do. Sometimes I just struggle with everything. The difference is – the writing is what’s important to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Michael Seidel, writer and commented:
    I agree with Meg. She’s really identified the essence. Only thing that she missed is how sore my ass gets when I’m sitting and typing. When I’m writing and it’s really gushing, as often happens, I quit feeling my body. I’m just not there. Then the energy falls, and I’m back at the computer, looking around, dazed, as she says, with a numb arse. And weirdly, I often want to type more. The mind and the muse are willing but the energy says, “No, dude, you gotta stop.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I think it is important to actively engage in the process of writing from time to time with regard to reflecting on the process of the writing session. It’s important to note the metag-cognition part of the actual performance. Paying attention to the mental conversation and how your thoughts are responding to the writing process provides valuable data for analysis later on. I try to de-brief my writing sessions to give me raw data that I can use in self-improvement efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading 🙂 I see writing as an ever-growing challenge. The more I do it, the more I want to challenge myself to try new things to see what I can do. It never gets easier regardless, but that’s what makes it so fun!


  7. “So, you can’t just quit.” Apparently, I can’t. When I was tearing my hair out over my last book, I swore I’d never do this again. Yesterday, I found myself typing, Chapter One. Here we go again 🙂


  8. Love this such an accurate article. Truth that we need to rest and truth we need to let the ideas flow at times when we’re tired.


  9. Thank you for this post! I believe the only writers who say it is easy are bad writers. So when it feels tough, it’s because you are aware of the challenges inherent in it and want to meet them and conquer them. And yes, there is so much going on in our minds. Writing is the hardest thing I have ever done, but it also the most exciting and all-consuming passion.


  10. So true. Writing is hard work.
    We think it’s not hard, because often when we write, we forget the world around us and delve deep into our words. But it can’t always happen. And when it doesn’t, we often end up feeling bad or angry at ourselves for being unable to.
    We forget we are humans as well, and it’s okay to lose a few.


  11. Reblogged this on K. S. Villoso and commented:
    So much like this article. And yes this is my brain being dead after an entire morning of writing. Even 18 km hikes can’t compare to exhaustion after writing for half a day. Only other writers can understand. Thanks for writing this!


  12. This was a fantastic, inspiring, and helpful read. I have nothing but the utmost respect for writers because I know how hard it is and how discouraging it can be. I find myself constantly looking online for advice as well as book recommendations too. I feel that this a craft that needs to be constantly worked on and I can never learn too much about it. I recently read a book that has literally changed me as a writer. You and your readers must read “Creative Visualization for Writers” by Nina Amir (http://ninaamir.com/). It answers the questions about one’s own writing that you may never even think to, or moreover, know how to ask. Nina Amir must have taken a hard look at her own writing to come up with something so outwardly helpful for the writing community as a whole. And to think that so many other untapped literary works could now be a reality thanks to this handbook of sorts? This book is a gem of immeasurable proportions; to give the gift of beautiful writing is one that cannot be taken back. One would be remiss not to at least give this work of art a once-over. I really hope you will check it out. I would love to hear your opinion!


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