Whenever people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them, “A writer.” It’s always what I’ve wanted to do, and I’ve never drifted far from that path. And though I truly enjoy it, I often have a difficult time sitting down and actually writing. Since I’m not working on staff for a publication, there’s no one breathing down my neck about deadlines or feeding me any new ideas—it’s something I have to bring myself to do on my own. Yet, there are countless obstacles I notice many writers face whenever they sit down to write.
Here are my top 5:
1. Uninspired Procrastination Mode
If I’m not inspired, then I’ll do it later—I tell myself in order get out of writing. The thing is—if I’m waiting for inspiration, I may be waiting a long while—weeks maybe. Sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and write a few sentences. The rest will come if I sit long enough. Sometimes it won’t- but I might get some good ideas brainstorming.
2. The “Never Good Enough” Fear
My writing professor told the class the most depressing thing for a writer to hear: “All the good stories have already been written.” I often worry he was right. I worry that I won’t be able to say anything better than what my Black feminist predecessors and my favorite fiction writers have already said. I worry that my writing is just “okay,” but not great. But I have to snap out of these worries—otherwise I’ll never get passed the first word on my grad school application essays and I’ll never write that awesome book I plan to write one day.
3. Feeling like a fake
Sometimes I feel like not a real writer. I’m not published in BigNamePublication, I don’t have any books out, and strangers don’t recognize the name of my blog—so I’m not legit. Then I really start to beat myself up: I’ll never be Toni Morrison or even as good as some of my favorite bloggers. But I have to remind myself that even Toni Morrison started somewhere with a pen, paper and dreams similar to my own.
4. Starving Artist Doom
We all have it—those of us who dream of making a career out of writing. We fear that our work will never take off and we’ll end up living on a street corner near the potheads and on Venice Beach, or worst—stuck in a job we hate because writing didn’t pay the bills. The fear of failure is the worst and the most difficult obstacle I struggle with.
5. “I Don’t Need It” Syndrome
I didn’t get any of the writing positions I applied for out of college. Instead, I landed a position at a PR firm, which pays well for my first job out of college. Before I was hired, my only income came from freelance writing. I literally needed to publish articles in order to have funds (Thankfully, my mother didn’t kick me out so I had food and shelter). Now that I no longer financially need to publish—I don’t do it as often. I have a comfortable fallback. But the truth is—I do need it. I’ve always needed it. No other job could ever fully satisfy my inner desire to write. Writing is how I make sense of the world, how I process my thoughts, and eventually- how I’ll become more successful. Writing is my passion—and I cannot let imaginary obstacles get in the way.
Fellow writers: Am I missing anything major? What obstacles do you face when you sit down to write?
Writers note: This post was inspired by the article 5 Invisible Obstacles I Conquer Every Time Run