Why You Hate Writing

Why You Hate Writing

Reader Comments (73)

  1. I have found that starting a creative writing project, something with no goal, no plot, no idea where it is going, often helps unlock my mind. Also, to find new ideas, I sit with a pen and paper and wonder about every question I asked or a friend asked this week. Might there be an angle in any of those questions?

  2. If I’m having a hard time motivating myself to write, I hunker down for 15 minutes or so and scroll through some of my favorite blogs. It doesn’t really matter if they are related to your industry or not. The point is to just read and try to learn something new. One of those posts might provide the springboard I need to start my own writing.

  3. In 2009, I discovered that writing was my passion. Since then, I’ve been making a living writing for various clients across the web. I love writing, but it needs constant research, reading and exploration to achieve tangible success. There is so much to learn in this writing industry – Let’s keep our minds open and be ready for opportunities when they appear. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I find broad reading helps me get back into writing.

    My consumption of words definitely has an intrinsic tie to my output, and I find when I’m reading too much of the same thing, my desire to write dwindles with my desire to read.

    So that would be my contribution to this dilemma, if you are struggling with finding the motivation to write, expand the breadth of your reading and you’ll likely be inspired to write sooner than you think.

    • I just had to respond to this to say I whole-heartedly agree with you Gregory!

      Reading is a really brilliant way to tackle writer burnout and find inspiration. I also find that reading lots of different things helps me find interesting stories and textures. I personally like poetry and haikus as they are quick reads that I can rifle through at my desk, but things like research papers and historical speeches also offer lots of inspiring material. Have you got any favourite content formats you go to when you need to feel inspired?

  5. Subscribing to every newspaper and magazine helps a lot. For this day and age, subscribing to several other blogs is the equivalent, and reading everyone else’s posts gives me the drive and creative spark all over again. Seeing other posts makes me want to write my own.

  6. Great post Robert. Simple. Eloquent. Intelligent. Inspirational. Also great comments from readers – not a bad way to spend a few minutes on 11-1-11. I think this is going to be a great day.

  7. Ah I like this line “The blank page is calling you to greatness”

    Every single post is a shot to greatness, and If you have something worthwhile to say make it large!

    What I have started to like about writing is that there is so much research involved into writing a good post. At the end of writing a post I become way more knowledgeable every single time. Its kind of addictive

    Frankly I can’t imagine running out of things to write about which many people complain of. If you can’t find what to write about you are too busy writing, rather than exploring.

    Writing is a culmination of that exploration, and if you explore well then you write a post which you are proud of because you distilled information for others to use. You made their life simpler.

    Many bloggers do this for me and I try do this for my readers. This feeling of providing value keeps me going

  8. I find reading a couple chapters of a book or browsing a blog in a related field can help kickstart my lust for the blank page.

    Getting together with like minded people can also help. Bouncing ideas off of one another brings excitement.

  9. The best thing I can do for the blank page (screen) is to get some words onto it. When I’m having a really rough time, I’ll set a timer for 10 minutes (normally it would be 40 or 50) and get something up there.

    Even if it’s totally wrong, once it’s on the page I can usually see what’s supposed to be there instead.

    • “Even if it’s totally wrong, once it’s on the page I can usually see what’s supposed to be there instead.” I love this, Sonia. I often finish and article, hit publish, realize it’s all wrong, hit revert to draft, and wallow in discouragement. Instead I’ll look for what should be there instead 🙂 Awesome advice from both you and Robert; and good to know that I’m not alone 🙂

  10. “Constraint is a secret of creativity.” Great line Robert.
    I enjoyed your message here on the writer’s path. Your points make me think of breathing – that there’s an intake aspect that precedes.

  11. If I get even a phrase that resonates with me, I start a draft of a new post with it. I try to review all my drafts regularly so that I can add other phrases, words, ideas, links, etc. as I come across them. Meanwhile the new article is percolating in my subconscious as I go about my day. Those drafts become rich fodder for new writing. Workflowy dot com is another tool that’s helping me with writing; mind mapping software is another one (though it lends itself more to outlines than to the actual writing). WorkFlowy lends itself well to outlining and writing (IMO).

  12. Thank you, thank you, thank you for addressing outlining!

    Throughout high school and college I was one of those “I hate outlining, I’ll just write and see what happens” people. And while I did fairly well, there were lots of stressful all-nighters. After graduating, I took a screenwriting class at a local community college where one of the assignments was to outline our script. I cursed, but did it. Then when it was time to write the full script, I found it SO much easier and enjoyable than most of my previous writing. I’m now a true believer in outlines. While you don’t need to detail every event/point, a rough guide helps so much.

    • Really good point.

      Even if you just write the subheads before you flesh out the whole article, you’ll have a simple skeleton in place that makes it much easier to a) finish the piece, and b) end up with something coherent.

      • Yes. Well said Sonia. As you said, if we write the important subheads before writing the article, then we can easily complete the writing in very easy manner and make our articles to read by the readers.

  13. i do not have words to praise you Robert. what a wonderful article!!
    i do not think anybody will argue with that.
    Writing is endless research. you just cannot generate ideas if you are not concentrating on this part. loved every part of it.

  14. Blank screen is far worse than the blank page. SO many more distractions on a computer. I have to turn those off when I’m really stuck.

    Another strategy you didn’t mention….steal other people’s ideas. Remember Picasso’s line (which Steve Jobs referenced) – “Good artists copy; great artists steal” or something along those lines.

    In that spirit, I think I’m off to write a brilliant post about the perils of writer’s block…

  15. Research and experience are key. I find that I have a hard time getting through magazines or even picking one up, because I know it will be chocked full of information and inspiration for blogging. Great post, almost very poetic!!

  16. Thanks for the kick in the butt! So right that if you are not living you are not writing. There are topics and articles to be written everywhere if you look closely enough.

  17. Hi Robert
    Talk about a timely post. This morning was one of those times I could not seem to string a sentence together. Blank screen = very frustrating.
    I have to agree with your key points, reasearch and outlining definitely help (needless to say I did none of these this morning). To top it all off I have been living the life of a hermit, I seriously need to get out of the house. I have a 30th lunch at a winery all day Saturday, so looking forward to that, I am sure it will provide lots of writing fodder. I will be taking notes!
    Thanks for the article

  18. Living and recounting the experience is the best writing tip for me. We are offered many lessons each day: interactions with others, observation of nature, etc……so we never have any shortage of inspiration or ideas.

    Thanks for sharing Robert!


  19. For me, being a much better improviser than organizer, I find getting out of the gate much harder than crossing the finish line. Truthfully, I can’t tell you how many times I started a piece of work that ended up as something completely different from what I had originally intended … precisely because I let my mind go and started with something … anything. Knowing this, I keep a notepad of random ideas to write about. When faced with a blank page or screen, I might start with something I’ve previously jotted down. That usually gets my mind going, albeit ocassionally somewhere else. That’s ok though, because in a twisted way that’s sort of what I like about the creative process; I’m always up for a pleasant surprise!

  20. For me, being a much better improviser than organizer, I find getting out of the gate much harder than crossing the finish line. Truthfully, I can’t tell you how many times I started a piece of work that ended up as something completely different from what I had originally intended … precisely because I let my mind go and started with something … anything. Knowing this, I keep a notepad of random ideas to write about. When faced with a blank page or screen, I might start with something I’ve previously jotted down. That usually gets my mind going, albeit occasionally somewhere else. That’s ok though, because in a twisted way that’s sort of what I like about the creative process; I’m always up for a pleasant surprise!

  21. I live by this modo, ‘I live, I notice, I share.’ So true that if we are not living we are not writing.
    As far as the research goes, I always feel a little guilty doing research because I feel like I am reading and goofing off, but I do it anyway. Books spark ideas and as Austin Kleon says, ‘Steal Like and Artist.’

  22. I always find that taking time out from ‘working’ gets it all flowing again. Going for a walk or out for a coffee usually gives me a totally new angle and story line or experience to recount.

  23. I gotta say, sometimes researching and outline take me OUT of the writing zone and I get so distracted and caught up in the gears that the words stop flowing. Whenever I’m staring down that blank page I just start writing. I write about how I can’t write. I write about my day. And no matter what it is I’m supposed to be writing about always comes – in a few minutes or an hour. While it’s good to research and plan when you’re stuck, sometimes writing for the sake of writing can really help pull you out of that rut.

  24. I hate writing because I have to commit to each word and each sentence. Thoughts are fleeting; writing is nearly permanent by comparison, but it is a good media; at least until thoughts can be transcribed directly.

  25. The blank page syndrome happened even to big writers, and Ernest Hemingway was one of them.
    Before or later, any writer should face this problem but only inspiration and research are the right ingredients to get out from the black hole.

  26. “The blank page is calling you to greatness.”

    What an optimistic way to look at it! Like so many others, I’ve often found myself starring intently at the stark-white page on my computer screen, waiting for my initiative to kick in. I definitely appreciate the inspirational tips here. Something tells me I won’t have any trouble facing the blank page today.

  27. I enjoyed every word of this article – so simple but so valuable pieces of advice. Read, listen, discuss, think and you’ll never have the page blank:)

  28. 4. You’re not writing what you want to write. You’re doing it for the money and you have to write want the client wants. You need to spend time writing what you love too, to keep from getting burned out. Or maybe turn down the assignments you really don’t want to do.

  29. Outlining is the key for me. Nothing worse than getting the first couple paragraphs written and feeling like…then what. Outlining at least gets me through the first draft.

  30. Wow! I must have missed this one. Thanks for bringing it back in the newsletter.
    Robert, this is concise and brilliant… and couldn’t be more timely for me <3

  31. Writing is something one can be easily passionate about: somedays you love it, somedays you hate it. But mostly, you can’t live without it 🙂

  32. A great post, one to keep for whenever I’m feeling uninspired 🙂
    My main strategy for overcoming Blank Page Fear is to quickly throw down everything that comes to mind on my current topic, without worrying too much about structure or style. Then I look back, figure out what kind of structure it might usefully have, what’s still missing, what’s irrelevant, and what I still need to research. Go do my research, stick it under the headings I’ve developed to create the structure, and then edit it all until it comes out gleaming and sparkling and ready for the world!

  33. I used to be intimidated by the blank page, thought all the “real” writers started with a blank page, but one day I saw a photo of John Updike’s desk, and beside his typewriter there was an overflowing basket. Now I sit down to write with a basket full of stuff–recipes, song lyrics, overheard conversations, arguments, favored names for characters (I’m looking for someone to name “Sutton”), and notes to myself on story lines. It all helps.

  34. I love everything there is about writing. Even on the days when I hate it! 🙂
    Each piece of prose you write shows a path of growth. Writing is evolution of the mind and the “white paper” is the only proof that it gets better.

  35. New to the blogging world. Thanks for a great post and I love all the comments. So helpful! I struggle with trying to make each post perfect and have heard that some say that you have to let a little bit of that go. So, fellow commentors, do you agree? Lower standards just a bit, to produce more? Or is striving for a more perfect post worth sacrificing number of posts posted (Ha!) ?

  36. Cool post mate. I find it very helpful just writing nonsense, just ideas, random stuff.

    Then when I feel I have something I can start writing about it and making changes to perfection.

    Sitting just in front of a blank paper or blank page it’s not a good idea, maybe to write some testing or small inspiration to check out in the future. You just know when you find something good, even so, creativity can be hard to find from time to time, trying hard will not help, chilling and doing something different will make a difference, at least works for me.

  37. Writing is one of the core elements of blogging and if you have to survive on the internet, you have to write a very compelling article and for this, research is very important. The day-to-day experience irrespective of good or bad can also help you in writing. Thank you for sharing your views with us.

  38. I write “So I have to start writing this thing” at the top of every blank page. Voila! It’s no longer a blank page. I usually freewrite around whatever it is I need to write about, and after maybe five minutes I realise I’ve got an outline. Once I’ve written my piece it’s just a question of going back and deleting my first sentence!

  39. Great post and great comments, everyone! What works best for me is to take some time to generate a lot of ideas and then weed through them, creating a list of possible blog posts. From there, I can just work down through my list unless I come up with something better in the meantime. I try to generate at least 3-6 months worth of ideas ahead of time so I never feel like I don’t have anything to write about.

  40. Writing about a blank page is so meta 😉 Great tips (and comments). I think this is where note / link saving apps like Evernote, Pocket, etc. come to be so handy. They allow you to stretch out the collection process, so when you sit down to write you’ve got all the prep out of the way.

  41. Robert,

    Beautifully written. Luckily, there are very few moments where I can say I hate writing.

    Scared that I won’t be able to do a good job? Sure, but not hate.

    What helps me the most is to simple show up and write all day, everyday until it becomes part of my life. As Elizabeth Gilbert said on her stunning TED talk, show up and be the vessel, not the source. 🙂

    Thanks a bunch for sharing!


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