The 5 Biggest Roadblocks All Writers Face

Wednesday, February 3rd 2016 • Advice

Writers face a seemingly insurmountable number of roadblocks on their way to publication. Whether you’re at the plotting, writing, revising, or querying stage, these are the top five roadblocks that you will face and how can you can knock them down.

Roadblock #1: How do I choose the right story to write? I’ve got so many ideas! I can’t write 70,000+ words and then realize it was the wrong story.

I totally understand this very real struggle. The idea of spending months or years on a story that could end up shelved is excruciating. And yet, that is our pursuit. New (and experienced!) writers start out without knowing whether their idea will be marketable, and that is a reality that writers must accept.

However, there is a way to choose the story that you should NOT write. Do not write a story idea because it’s trending or because you saw an agent or editor tweeting about a manuscript that they want. By the time you finish that novel, the trend will be over and the agent and editor will have found their winning manuscript. Instead, write the story that you feel most passionately about that you can keep chipping away day after day at it. Plot out your novel with a strong outline (if outlines are you’re thing) and follow it through to the end.

Choosing between two tales? Write the first chapter and sketch out a story arc for both stories. Then, grab some critique partners and have them review the two. Ask them which one grabs them and makes them want to read more. If you agree with them, write that story. If you strongly disagree and want to prove them wrong, then write the story that’s really burning inside you.

Roadblock #2: How do I find the time to finish writing my story?

Time cannot and will not be “found” waiting for you. It must be carved out. You do not need to write every single day, but you do need to accept the reality that you control just how much writing makes it to the page. Set a word limit for the week or set aside an hour during the day when you can be productive, and then stick to your goal.

Roadblock #3: How do I know if what I’m writing is any good?

Think about your favorite book in the world. Think about a book that’s changed your life. Then, go to Goodreads or Amazon or any review site and find that book. There, you will find people that agree with you. You will also find several angry reviews obliterating your favorite book and cursing its very existence.

What does this mean?

It means that taste is subjective. It means that someone out there will think your book is garbage and someone will think it’s gold. All you can do is put out the very best book that you can and rest well knowing that you gave it your all.

Roadblock #4: How do I revise my story without destroying it and/or giving up on it?

Revision is a long process that requires its very own post, but the best tip to overcoming this roadblock is simple: don’t revise right away. Put your work in a drawer (be it a digital “drawer” or the one on your nightstand) and do not touch the manuscript for at least three weeks. Then, print it out and read it aloud. More on this later.

Roadblock #5: How do I get my work out into the big, bad world?

First off, be brave. Be prepared for rejection. Make a game plan. Do a lot of research on websites like Literary Rambles and Query Tracker. Write a query letter, put that letter in a drawer, revise, send to critique partners, and revise again. Post your query letter on helpful forums (like this one) for more feedback and revise again. Send queries out in batches so you can see what’s working and what’s not. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

There are so many other roadblocks out there standing in a writer’s way, but rest assured that all can be knocked down with the right tools.

What about you, glorious readers? What roadblocks have you faced? How have you shattered them?

Until next time,

V

© 2013 Veronica Bane. All Rights Reserved.