Writing Tips

When Your Writing Issue Is…

Writing a book—or anything—comes along with a lot of challenges, and sometimes those challenges can feel overwhelming. So here’s a quick tip guide to help you navigate your writing journey.

I have an idea, but now what?

Well, now you write. (And write and write and write again.) Don’t focus on being perfect. Don’t focus on getting published. In fact, don’t spend months studying how to write on blogs like this one. There’s only so much you’re going to learn from reading about writing. You’re going to have to write yourself to learn about yourself and your craft. So, sure, research, but make sure you’re writing…and reading (a lot). Related article: No, Reading is Not an Option

I don’t have time to write.

Listen, no one has time to write. Some of us definitely have more time (or less), but comparing yourself to anyone is not going to get you anywhere. Write when you can and write what you can. Don’t beat yourself up. Just do your best. Related article: Making More Time to Write & Confessions of a Slow Writer

I can’t begin.

So don’t worry about beginning. Start in the middle. Start at the end. Start anywhere that you want to start. When I’m struggling with a story idea, I just hop around in all types of scenes, jot down some ideas, and hop around again. Eventually, it comes together. Embrace the mess. You can fix it later. Related articles: World BuildingNaming Your Characters.

I can’t finish!

Finish. I know that is the worst thing I can say. (Trust me, I do.) But sometimes you have to write the “wrong” ending to learn what the “right” ending is. Another place to look at is your middle. If you’re feeling awkward about the ending, you might have gone “wrong” earlier. Track back and see where you start feeling unsure. Try something new, then finish that. The last chapter is a lot like the first chapter. You’re probably going to change it a lot. That’s okay! Related articles: Writing Quicksand & The Ideal Writing Pace

Extra tip: Remember an issue is just that – an issue. It will be solved. You will overcome it, and you will move forward. Try to keep that in mind.

I’m overwhelmed/depressed/numb to my writing.

Whoa there. Take a step back. Your mental health and well being is more important than getting another 1,000 words down. Granted, I can admit I’m horrible at taking my own advice here. But it’s true. Taking a step back is okay—and necessary sometimes. Related articles: The Lonely Writer & How to Avoid Writer Burnout

OMG. I’m editing?!

An editing process is a lot like a writing process. It is unique to every writer and often every project. I recently wrote an editing series about my process if you’re interested—My Editing Process Starts in my Writing Process, Editing (Rewriting) the First Draft, and Editing the “Final” Draft—but try not to feel overwhelmed or down. Editing is another part of the writing process. You’ll learn to love it. (Or love to hate it.) Either way, try to concentrate on the “love” part.

Someone had the same book idea as me. 😦

Ideas are everywhere. So is inspiration. And then there’s that classic “Everything’s been done before” line. Trust me, you’re going to come in contact with someone who has a similar idea/book/character as you. Sometimes you might even see that book get published (eek) before yours. Don’t. Panic. Your book and you are perfectly okay, because YOU are the unique part of your book. Only you can tell a book like you can. Emphasize what is unique about your story and keep writing. Related article: Writers, Stop Comparing Yourselves

It’s complete! Now what?

Slow down and consider what you want out of your career for this book. Do you want to go traditional? Do you want an agent? Do you want to self-publish? Take your time and research what is best for you and your novel. Don’t be afraid to ask fellow writers for help, guidance, or opinions. We’re all here to help you! General rule: Money always flows toward the author, not away. Never pay an agent or a publisher to publish you or your book. (Oh, and write another book.) Related article: The Emotions of Finishing a Novel & How To Get A Literary Agent

Offer of Rep/Publication

Like I said above, research, research, research. Never sign a contract without fully understanding what you’re getting into. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to turn an offer down, if it isn’t right for you or your book. There will be another one. One piece of advice I love? A bad agent/publisher is worse than no agent/publisher. Oh! And congratulations! You are awesome.

An agent/publisher offers a R&R (Revise and Resubmit)?

First, congrats! Those are pretty rare, and someone likes your work enough to give you a second shot. But don’t jump the gun. If someone gave you an R&R, chances are they gave you some significant feedback to help you revise. Figure out how you feel about that feedback first. Does it match your vision? Are you okay with it? If so, go for it! If not, it’s okay to thank that person and move on.

I’m published! Yay! (But I secretly feel like an imposter)

Feeling like you got “lucky” or don’t deserve to be where you are at is called Imposter Syndrome…and everyone feels it eventually. It sucks, I know, but it normally fades. Hanging out or talking with fellow writers will probably help you feel better here. If not, try any kind of self-care. Read your favorite book. Watch a TV show. Step away. You deserve it!

If you have any issues, feel free to share them below.

I’ll try to give a quick tip to help.


23 thoughts on “When Your Writing Issue Is…

  1. Shannon great post as usual. You mentioned “never pay an agent or publisher to publish you or your book”. How is this possible? Most publishers such as Outskirt, Lulu etc…all charge for everything.
    Maybe you weren’t speaking of these online traditional publishing companies.
    My first book was published through Xlibris publishing. I learned my lesson from going that route spending plenty of money and it was ongoing. Still ended up with a not so great book.
    Companies like this particular one are everywhere online.
    I am still writing but skeptical when it comes to publishing. I just keep using Amazon Createspace, which is okay but would prefer to have my book/books done professionally.
    I find myself spending and losing much money and I don’t want to give up on writing because of this.

    1. Oh! Okay, if you’re self-publishing, then yes, you are going to pay. But self-publishing is not traditional publishing. Traditional publishing is going with a company like Harlequin or Penguin-Random House. If you’re going with a small or independent press though, you should never pay money.
      It sounds like you are self-publishing and not very satisfied with it, and that’s okay. Self-publishing isn’t for everyone. (I’ve never self-published just because I don’t think I could do it all on my own and create a successful and professional project. That is tough work to do on your own. Some people are AMAZING at that, and that’s awesome, but, again, not for everyone.) If you’re not happy with self-publishing, I’d take a step back and research your other options, such as smaller presses and agents.
      I hope that helps!

  2. Such a helpful post! I know I’ve gotten to the point where my initial outlines are just a giant stream of consciousness with lots of arrows and question marks 😂 it’s me just writing down any possible thing I could think about doing with the story and somehow that helps me get more comfortable with the idea and be able to look at all my ideas written and see what works and what doesn’t.
    I feel the having an issue finish part. When I was writing out my chapter by chapter outline for my current WIP I wasn’t really feeling the ending but this gives me hope that I can figure it out! 👍

    1. You totally will! I’ve written books where I only knew the beginning and end (and the middle was a disaster), and I’ve also written books where I only knew the middle but figured out the beginning in the end. It’s a new journey every time. 😀

  3. This article came at a great time for me actually. I actually just started FINALLY writing down my ideas for the first novel/story that I wanna write. I’m still in the brainstorming phase, but I have it all on paper rather than just in my head, so I feel I’m progressing!

  4. Invaluable wise advice for those starting out or struggling through.
    Simply has to be reblogged.

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