Is Writing Hard?

Seriously, is it actually hard?


Also, yes! Writing words is easy. I’m doing it now - look at me go! Writing a novel, and finishing it, however… That can be very difficult.

Why? If one can simply continue stringing words together until they have enough of them that the only way to describe the end result is “a book”, what makes it hard?

I want to focus on three things. There are plenty more, but these three can be crippling.

Perfectionism, Imposter Syndrome, and Fear.

Let’s break it down:


We all want the end result of whatever we pursue to be perfect. It’s a common enough aspiration.

Editing and revisions are a required part of the writing process to ensure what an author puts out is both something they are proud of and is positioned to sell as well as it can.

That said, there will always be something you will find on a re-read that you want to change or fix. Especially over time, as your writing evolves and your expectations as a reader change. You will notice inconsistencies, idiosyncrasies, or simply something you believe could be better after a break from a story that escaped you on the last read through.

So, you will edit. Again. This cycle will continue through every revision.

If you aim for perfect, you will never finish. There will always - always - be something more you can bring to the page.

If an author finds themselves struggling with this, how can it be surpassed?

1) Deadlines. Set them and stick to them. Sometimes, we miss them. We’re human, after all, but it’s important to remember that if writing is ever to be more than a pasttime, we must be held accountable for actually writing.

2) Choose one audience demographic (even if it’s yourself) and ask: “Is this enjoyable?”. Work until the answer is “Yes.”

How does an author realize it’s finished, when they know they will find more they could alter later?

I’d love to sum it up as: “When you know, you’ll know.” Unfortnately, it’s more often than not a decision, rather than a feeling. With a feeling, you may send it off to your editor and pat yourself on the back, only to receive a ton of feedback you realize absolutely needs to be addressed.

At some point, we have to make the decision that there is nothing more we as authors can add to our work in the moment that will outweigh forstalling its release and putting it into our audience’s hands. After a first or second revision, begin asking whether it’s ready for your audience, or if holding off in order to further evolve it is worth it. For many authors, the answer to the question of readiness is “no” for many revisions. Then, one day, the answer becomes “yes”, sometimes seemingly out of the blue.

Imposter Syndrome

Publishing your first book? Or your umpteenth book without any big hits? Questioning whether you’re actually good at this trade? Feel awkward about introducing yourself as an author?

The good news is that this happens in every industry. Whether climbing the corporate ladder, managing a restaraunt, or trying to sell a car to an amrchair automobile historian and racing simluator enthusiast, the vast majority of us experience Imposter Syndrome at some point. Even the ones publicly lauded as great at what they do can encounter it.

That Imposter Syndrome is normal, is a perspective worth ruminating on. Feeling it is not indicative of it holding true. There’s something to be said for taking a breath, realizing that feeling it puts you in the majority, acknowledging that, and then pushing forward. Keep going.

After all, the alternative is to give in to the final reason that writing is hard:


  • Fear of Judgement: Bad reviews, cancellation, online hate. These can all cause a paralysis of creativity and productivity.
  • Fear of Failure: Writing a book costs money. Will you make it back? Will you turn a profit? What will people think? How will you pay your bills? How will you fund the next book?
  • Fear of Missing Deadlines: Deadlines are important to finishing a project and missing one can be a major hit to morale. This can lead to writer’s block, making it a cyclical failure.
  • Fear of the Unknown: Where is the story going? How will you publish it? Will anybody even read it? Will it resonate with those who do?
  • Fear of the End: Sometimes authors fear finishing their book. Finishing means that everything changes. New challenges replace the old and familiar ones. Change can be scary. It can lead to a fear of giving up, of feeling like you’ve wasted months or years of your life on something that never panned out.

Unfortunatley, the only answer to these fears is to face them, finish the book, and see what happens. Then, do it all again for the next story.

So, Writing is Hard?

Yes! Also, maybe not.

It all comes down to how you define the challenge and what triggers those deer-in-headlights moments for you. We all experience them, one way or another.

Once you’ve written something - anything - you’re a writer. If your goal is to be a published author, then not only do you need to write the story itself, but you also need to draw a line in the sand that indicates that it is time to publish. Then, you need to publish.

Yes, it’s about the quality of the story - but losing sight of that finish line bullet point in the plan will leave the story sitting forever on your own pages, and not those of your audience. It comes down to judgement and juxtaposing that with your goals.

Your editor can help. Your proofreader can help. Your beta readers can help. But ultimately, the decision lies with you.