7 Cruel Ways Writers Torture Themselves

7 Cruel Ways Writers Torture Themselves

Seriously, what is it with writers?

You’d think they actually enjoy pain and misery.

After all, writing is hard enough without inventing new ways to make yourself suffer. But suffer they do.

Perhaps it’s the image of the writer as a tormented artist, or a form of occupational masochism, but something seems to make writers seek out pain.

Maybe without it, they don’t feel like “real” writers.

But what about you? Are you a misery magnet? Is pain your faithful muse?

Here are seven ways that writers torture themselves. See how many you recognize (and discover how to avoid them.)

1) They Set an Insanely High Bar for Success

Writers often set wildly unrealistic goals for themselves.

They demand that their next post goes viral, their first book is a bestseller, or their debut product is a slam dunk success.

It’s almost as if they want to fail.

But in reality, like any skill worth studying, writing is a journey of incremental successes.

Set the bar too high and your every achievement becomes a disappointment. Every small step of progress is a letdown. And it’s torture.

Of course, massive, sudden success does happen, but it’s amazingly rare. (And almost never as sudden as it seems.)

Sadly, the chances of it happening to you are slim.

If that news makes you want to give up, that’s fine. You probably weren’t cut out to be a writer anyway. Seriously, go and do something easier instead.

But if you’re still reading, it’s time to scrap your crazy, self-sabotaging success criteria.

Choose an alternative measure of writing success. In fact, here’s one:

Did I write 500 words today? (Or 1,000 or 2,000 – you decide.)

Because until you have a regular writing habit, any other measures of success are just failures waiting to happen.

2) They Invent Dire Consequences for “Failure”

If writers’ unrealistic goals are the proverbial dangling carrots, their self-imposed penalties for failure are the sticks they use to beat themselves toward success.

Who else but a writer would say to themselves: “If I’m not earning a living from this in the next six months, I’ll give up on my dream forever.”

Positioning like that places every day under an impending cloud of disaster.  It’s like a form of torture, a car crash in slow motion.

But your writing career is not a bargaining chip or a passing fad. If writing is your true calling, it’ll be with you for life.

Over that time you’ll have more failures than successes, no doubt. Learn from them, but don’t make them into more than they are.

You cannot force or coerce success. Keep writing and it will come.

3) They Create Terrible Working Conditions

How often have you heard this advice, aimed at busy writers:

Make time for writing by stealing spare moments from your hectic day.

That usually means brainstorming blog post ideas on your morning bus ride. Or outlining a manifesto on your smartphone in the doctor’s waiting room. Or scribbling a few paragraphs for your new book over lunch.

But you know what, I hate that advice.

Why? Because it gives writers another way to torture themselves.

Think about it for a moment. Just what kind of time are we talking about here?

Short and unpredictable stretches of time spent in different environments with a variety of distractions. You couldn’t design worse conditions for producing quality work if you tried.

If your writing week consists of slivers of time duct-taped together, you’re making it almost impossible to gain real traction.

And it’s excruciating to look back on a week where you spent several hours writing but never made any significant progress.

If you want to write at your best, you need to give your best time, not the crumbs from an already overloaded day.

By all means grab extra writing time when and where you can, if that feels useful.

But unless you have a bedrock of quality writing time factored into every week, you’re not pursuing your dream; you’re just torturing yourself with the illusion of progress.

4) They Torment Themselves with Others’ Success

Heroes and rivals – every serious writer has them.

And these figures have their part to play in your success too. Heroes inspire you; rivals spur you on.

But they’re also another way for masochistic writers to torment themselves.

Writers compare their latest work to the “greatest hits” of their heroes and always come up short. They conveniently forget that they never get to see the work these big names abandoned or deemed unfit to publish.

Likewise, they don’t know the full story of their rivals’ successes. They don’t see the work behind the scenes, help that was given by others, or any part that luck played. So their comparisons always leave them feeling inferior.

They forget, results always have a wider context.

Bloggers with an established platform will almost always make a bigger splash than those without. Some A-listers could publish their grocery lists on their blogs and still attract a few dozen comments.

So if you’re looking to taunt yourself with the successes of others, you’ll find no shortage of examples. But fair comparisons are almost impossible to make.

Why not avoid them altogether and find a different way to harass yourself?

5) They Constantly Measure Their Worth by Their Results

Great writers have bad days. Bad writers have good days.

Writing proceeds in fits and starts. The results are unpredictable. That’s its nature.

Sometimes your writing will sing — and sometimes it’ll suck.

Too few writers recognize this. They can’t separate the writing from the writer. But if you measure your worth by the quality of any single day’s writing, you’ll beat yourself up several times a week.

Your worth as a writer is not a barometer needle, fluctuating from day to day and hour to hour.

Your worth as a writer lies in your future potential.

It lies in the body of work you’ll create over the coming years, even decades. You’ll be judged on the eventual high water mark of your work, not your running average.

So the only way you can limit your potential is to stop writing.

Keep writing and your worth can only increase.

6) They Flagellate Themselves with Self-Criticism

Writers are their own worst critics.

Hardly have their words hit the page before the self-flagellation about those words commences.

And it’s painful, right? Nobody excels when every tentative move is scrutinized and remarked upon. Good writing can’t flourish under the glare of harsh criticism.

Judging your work while you’re creating it is not only unhelpful, it’s dumb too.

Criticism requires a totally different mindset than creation. You’re either in the game or watching the game. You can’t be both.

So choose. Are you writing, or editing?

When you write, focus on quantity. Keep going and make sure you hit your target word count.

When you edit, focus on quality. Tighten, reorder, clarify.

And when that critical voice appears with another “helpful” opinion, tell it politely but firmly to back off. Remind it that the time for criticism will come, but not now.

7) They Always Attempt the Hardest Thing First

Ambition is good. It drives you forward. Big scary goals give you something inspiring to aim for.

The problem is, many writers skip the steps in the middle, creating a formula for failure.

And constant failure, particularly when you miss your goal by a mile, is excruciating. So pick goals you have a hope of meeting.

Want to write a novel? Awesome. But promise me it’s not your first serious project as a writer.  That would be like running a marathon without training over smaller distances first.

If a novel is your ultimate goal, write some short stories first. And when you produce one or two that don’t suck, maybe, just maybe, you should start thinking about writing something longer  like a novella.

It’s the same with blogging too. Want to write an in-depth “ultimate guide” on some aspect of your topic? Then write a few focused “how to” style posts first.

If you habitually set yourself up for failure, it’s a sign you don’t feel you deserve success. That’s why you keep engineering situations that confirm your deepest fears.

So cut that shit out. Or get to the bottom of it. Or explore it in your writing.

But whatever else you do, don’t pretend it’s not happening. Otherwise, we’ll have to conclude you actually enjoy the pain.

Let’s End this Pointless Torture

Let’s face it; as writers, we love to torture ourselves.

Maybe we believe that true art can only come from struggle.

But being a writer doesn’t have to be painful.

It’s not always easy, but it can be joyful, even effortless.

If misery truly inspires your best work then go ahead, torment yourself silly.

But if you can nix the behaviors that rob writing of its pleasures, not only will you find more enjoyment in it, but your writing may actually improve.

So check the list above and see if you’re causing yourself needless pain.

Together we can end cruelty to writers for good.

About the Author: Glen Long is the managing editor of Smart Blogger (a.k.a. chief content monkey). When he’s not creating or editing content for this blog or an upcoming course he’s probably watching Nordic Noir. Why not say hello to him on Twitter?

80 Comments

  1. Elvis Michael
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 10:31:01

    It’s not about the destination, but rather about the journey — right, Glen? 🙂

    Thanks for the VERY realistic post. Perhaps the best thing is that it also applies to so many other professions. So, let’s all take it one step at a time!

    Enjoy your day,
    Elvis

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:33:08

      Thanks Elvis. Hadn’t really thought about it applying to other professions – but I guess you’re right. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

      • Brian
        Sep 18, 2016 @ 15:46:10

        Exactly! This was a great post that applies to a lot more than you probably imagined! 🙂

  2. arundhathi
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 10:33:34

    Thank you for many valid points.

  3. Ayodeji Awosika
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 10:39:48

    Hey Glen,

    Are you reading my mind?

    My girlfriend keeps telling me I’m too picky about conditions I need to create my work. She doesn’t understand the importance of environment.

    We have an infant child and she tells me to “fit it in,” where I can. I write at the same time each morning.

    If my daughter interrupts that time, I can’t do anything about that, but more often than not, I have a solid hour to write.

    I don’t write during random intervals, even though I could, because of the reasons you shared in point #3.

    I’m going to share this post with her and say,”See? I’m not the only one who thinks this way!”

    And yeah, us writers love suffering too much. It’s ridiculous. Thanks for this timely post.

    Off to share!

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:37:34

      Hi Ayodeji.

      Yes, I am a fully trained mind-reader! 😉

      I know your situation too well – I have a one year old myself. But I think you have the right approach. Plan some quality writing time early in your day and just accept that interruptions will sometimes occur.

      Glen.

  4. Reaghan Reilly
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 10:46:12

    Hi Glen

    I nodded in agreement with several of your points. I’ll share this so some friends can appreciate your insight.

  5. Jade
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 10:50:58

    Hey!
    Thank you so much for this post. It was right on point and exactly what I needed right now. Do you suggest a way to even stop the procasination. As a new writer I literally can find so many creative ways to not write. And when I do sit down to write everyday (I somehow manage to do it) I am never really happy with what I have written. The fear that I am a horrible writer always hangs on my neck.
    Bookmarking this post. Thanks again!

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:41:28

      Ah yes, procrastination. It’s a killer.

      This post has a great tip (#2) about setting yourself tiny goals to help you get rolling:

      https://smartblogger.com/unusual-writing-tips/

      Start with something so simple it not worth procrastinating over, then build momentum from there.

      But it’s a tough one for sure. I have to admit I did a little procrastination when writing this post!

      Best of luck and thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers,

      Glen.

  6. James Arq
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 10:54:43

    You’re a mind reader, Glen! All your points are so true to me personally, that I’m starting to get creeped out. 😛

    Your third point really strikes a chord with me.

    As a high school student, I am just drowned with activity, homework, and the constant pouring of nags from both parents and teachers. In an environment like that, no one’s really gonna come up with anything great.

    When you write, you aren’t just passing loosely woven words to your readers, you’re passing a piece of yourself.

    So make sure you spend time crafting something you can be proud to share to others, rather than piecing together incohesive fragments of writing that still carry your frustrations.

    Just as you’ve mentioned; give your best time, and not just the crumbs, and your readers will surely appreciate you for it!

    Thanks again Glen, it’s comforting to be reminded to just chill once in a while. 🙂

    p.s. Your write ups are always so AWEEEEEESOOOOOMEEEE!!! (sorry, just had to unleash the 15 year old me 😉 )

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:45:15

      Hey James,

      Yes – thanks for letting me into your mind. It made writing the post so much easier. 😉

      You’re totally right of course. When you’re drowning in other demands it’s not conducive to doing great work.

      And please thank your inner 15 year old for the “AWEEEEEESOOOOOMEEEE!!!” It was, well, awesome!

      Cheers,

      Glen.

      • James Arq
        Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:58:38

        Well, Glen, your writings (and I’m sure you too, personally) are really AWEEEESOOOMEEEE!

        Coming from the 15 year old me ( that feels weird typing down because I am currently 15) 😛

  7. Cathy Hutchison
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 11:02:03

    Wow….I so completely needed this. Thank you, Glen. My biggest takeaway? ARE YOU WRITING OR EDITING???!!! Stop editing and writing at the same time, Cathy Hutchison. Just write or just edit. Seriously.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:47:55

      Hi Cathy,

      Yes – it’s so true. I even caught myself doing it while writing the post.

      I might make myself a couple of little sticky notes to attach to my computer screen to remind me if I’m in Writing or Editing mode. 🙂

      Good to see you here – thanks for your thoughts.

      Cheers,

      Glen.

    • Jenn
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 16:05:22

      Cathy, this is an AMAZING reminder as I sit here editing my “sh*tty first draft” as soon as I type each sentence out. Now I’ll focus on “just writing” before “just editing” – so easy to forget these are two separate endeavors!

  8. Vicki Nelson
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 11:16:19

    Fantastic post. As someone else stated, it is about the journey. All great reminders, many of which I need to hear again. Thanks!

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:48:16

      Thanks Vicki!

  9. Liz Longacre
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:09:08

    Hi Glen! Every word of this is SO true. Writers really need to give themselves a break. The obsession with perfection and comparison steals so many beautiful words from the world!

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:52:19

      Liz!

      So glad to see you here. You can send me your editor’s notes later. 😉

      Glad the post rang true. And you know what, I absolutely should have dedicated a point to perfectionism. Oh well, next time.

      Hope you’re well. Thanks for commenting.

      Glen.

  10. William Seavey
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:15:36

    I guess I have been torturing myself ever since I started writing in grade school (“a trip to the moon.”) I’m 69. I got a journalism degree and it took me to the heights of success and exposure for several years. But AT THE SAME TIME, recognizing that you need EXPERIENCES to write about (whether non-fiction or fiction), I pursued a broad, eclectic career and life path. My self-published book of essays (at Amazon), I Could Have Been President (a total non best seller), reflects my myriad experiences. Right now I co-run a very successful b&b in coastal California and, like Glen writes about, I’m squeezed for time. My wife is no writer and not much of a reader so in this regard doesn’t really understand my motivations, especially when there’s little money involved (hard to make it today with the internet debasing -democratizing?- media. I don’t care. I’m self publishing a book about Americans and Canadians because it’s needed, even though DOZENS of publishers and agents have rejected it. I write on, and measure my successes in increments, as suggested. The competition for published work is fierce, that’s just the reality, but if you need to write and have something to say, just do it. (Great piece, by the way, very helpful).

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 13:07:18

      Hey William,

      Your point about needing experiences to draw upon is well made. Great writing is not just about craft, but having something to say too. Love your attitude – you’re committed to the writing rather than a specific result. Best of luck with your latest book!

      Cheers,

      Glen.

  11. Ryan Biddulph
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:20:01

    Hi Glen,

    Amen 😉

    I am pretty much the opposite of a tortured writer. No Zen like detachment from my work but I largely feel good about the eBooks and blog posts I publish, because I am just being me. Not anybody else. So that’s enough.

    I once lived by a starving, tortured artist type. He believed his success flowed from a dark, tortured energy, and made his life a living hell to find his source. Crazy. And of course, the destructive choices he made to find “inspiration” threatened his life.

    Ryan

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 13:14:35

      Hi Ryan,

      Great to see you on the blog!

      Glad to hear your writing life is torture-free. Living in paradise probably helps to give you a more Zen-like perspective on things. 🙂

      I used to have a friend like the one you describe. His creative heroes were tortured and complicated and he felt that was the best route to being an artist.

      I’m not saying that art doesn’t sometimes emerge from darkness, but I don’t think it’s a prerequisite.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Cheers,

      Glen.

  12. Lily
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:41:51

    Hi Glen!

    Thanks so much for the post. Every point is soo true! I suffer from almost all of them and yet at the same time I know I shouldn’t! So yeah it helped a lot! At least now I’ll try to find some other ways of torturing myself, but I won’t let my writing flow suffer for it! 😉

    Thanks again. Keep giving such amazing helpful posts! 😀

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 13:15:23

      Thanks Lily. At least you know you’re not alone! 🙂

  13. Leanne Regalla
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:46:57

    Let’s see –

    #1 – Yes, I set the bar high. Can’t help that. It’s in my DNA.

    #2 – I actually think I need to set more disastrous consequences for failure – currently looking for (at least) a photo of a mounted taxidermy head (like some famous writer who I’m forgetting now) who used it to remind himself how he’d end up if he didn’t get his writing done! 😉

    #3, 4, 6, and 7 aren’t big issues for me.

    #5 is though. Woo boy!

    Thanks for some great reminders.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 13:21:32

      Hey Leanne,

      Glad some of these hit home. With #2 I think it depends whether you have full control over the outcome. Deciding a suitable punishment for not finishing a draft on time might be motivating. Punishing yourself if that post doesn’t go viral might not be.

      I hadn’t heard the story about the mounted head. That’s a pretty hardcore reminder of mortality.But whatever works for you! 🙂

      Bye for now,

      Glen.

      • Leanne Regalla
        Sep 08, 2016 @ 14:04:54

        I think I heard it from Jon. Lol! 🙂 Ask him.

  14. George McNeese
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 12:51:54

    I am guilty of a few of those torture devices. I think it’s the mindset I have. I feel like I have to be better than when I started because I graded myself too harshly and I wasn’t very disciplined in my early endeavors. I’m working on gaining that discipline, but I feel like I have a lot to catch up on. I hear about so many writers starting at an early age, and here I am, nearly forty, or I don’t even have a manuscript. I’m sure it will come, but I’m very impatient. That’s something else I need to work on.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 13:27:52

      Hey George,

      I don’t think being a late bloomer is a big problem. Like William says above, you need life experience too and you’ll have much more of that than someone in their twenties.

      We have students and readers in their seventies who are just taking up blogging so it’s never too late to start.

      My tip would be don’t compare yourself to people who are younger. Compare yourself to people who are ten, twenty years older than you who wish they’d started writing at your age. It’s all about perspective.

      All the best,

      Glen.

    • José Loreto Romero Palma
      Sep 09, 2016 @ 02:16:48

      Hello George:

      What you said: “I feel like I have to be better than when I started”, reminded me of Herman Hesse’s Siddharta, for some reason.

      “The world, Govinda, is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection. No, it is perfect at every moment; every sin already carries grace within it, all small children are potential old men, all sucklings have death within them, all dying people — eternal life. It is not possible for one person to see how far another is on the way; the Buddha exists in the robber and dice player; the robber exists in the Brahmin.”

      What separates you from what you were, and what you will be are only shaddows. Nothing was, nothing will be; everything is, everything has being and presence.

  15. Lisa McKinney
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 13:06:53

    #3—exactly! 😃

  16. Ann Davis
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 13:25:56

    Hey Glen,
    You nailed it ! #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6-I’am guilty of them all. I have bookmarked to read later.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 08, 2016 @ 13:28:39

      Thanks Ann!

  17. Rich Finlinson
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 14:53:44

    Hey Glen!

    So much of this applies to me. Thanks! You inspired me to play with opposites. So here are 7-ways to support yourself in your creative aspirations. These are like the photographic negatives of your points or prints above. (Oops some younger readers won’t relate at all to photo negatives. Oh well.)

    1. Lower the bar
    2. Consider the rewards
    3. Make your “makerspace” work for you
    4. Take a break from thinking about others
    5. Throw the tape measure back in the tool box
    6. Put your inner critic on hold, you can talk later
    7. Warm up your fingers. Doodling isn’t just an app for scheduling.

    Thanks again for the inspiration! Reading and replying to your blog was the best part of my lunch hour today.

    Rich

    • Glen Long
      Sep 11, 2016 @ 16:37:50

      Hi Rich,

      Love the way you flipped it. You just outlined a whole new post for me!

      Glad the post enhanced your lunchtime. 🙂

      Cheers,

      Glen.

  18. Margaret
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 15:17:20

    Thank you so much for this. Especially number 6…”Hardly have their words hit the page before the self-flagellation about those words commences”…so me! And loved the perspective of thinking of it as a body of work rather than putting so much paralyzing focus on each piece. Grateful for the insight and inspiration.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 11, 2016 @ 16:39:03

      Hey Margaret. Glad you enjoyed #6. Thanks for stopping by!

  19. Josh
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 16:33:09

    Very good point. I think lots of writers (& bloggers) think you can make a living from writing one or two articles per month. If you haven’t written in awhile you realize that you need to regain your command on the English language and use it convincingly.

    I beat myself up with several points, probably the biggest one is comparing my success to others I know started after I did and are making as much in one month as it took me a year to make. But, even I think they write good stuff, so I’m glad they are getting recognized.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 11, 2016 @ 16:55:39

      Hey Josh,

      Yes – comparison with others is a great way to beat yourself up. But the thing is, you almost never have all the facts, so comparisons like that are not only unhelpful, but they may not even be accurate.

      Cheers,

      Glen.

  20. Kim Orr
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 17:38:42

    Hi Glen! Even though you love Nordic Noir, you couldn’t possibly have written this in a cafe in Copenhagen after far too many cups of strong coffee. Your writing is too coherent:)

    That’s another things writers do — they often over fuel with caffeine and then wonder why they can’t sleep, or why the words that made it onto the page at 3:00am don’t make sense at noon. Lack of care for our dear old corpus is also a form of self sabotage.

    But if you have a one year old at home then you know the sleep deprived side of writing — or maybe it becomes sleep writing:) Stealing sleep is often harder than stealing time for writing. I wish you many uninterrupted hours of deep, restorative sleep.

    You’ve done a wonderful service here for your fellow writers. Thanks for bringing this sort of self sabotage to everyone’s attention.
    Best,
    Kim

    • Vishal Kataria
      Sep 09, 2016 @ 02:02:37

      So true Kim. Bad writers want to ‘look the part’. Sleep-deprived, coffee-guzzling, moody folks who keep complaining about the lack of creativity.

      The dedicated ones, like you rightly mentioned, know that rest is important, and have plenty of it. They know that the quality of their effort will eclipse the mammoth number of hours put in without rest on any way.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 12, 2016 @ 09:00:26

      Hey Kim,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I don’t have a caffeine addiction, but my sugar addiction is a little out of control and it’s difficult to write in the middle of a sugar slump.

      Fortunately my one-year-old sleeps pretty well most of the time (although right at the moment he’s teething again so nights are a little fragmented).

      Glad you enjoyed the post. I’ll confess the headline was Jon’s idea so I can’t take full credit but it was fun channelling my inner tortured artist to write the post.

      Thanks again,

      Glen.

  21. Sonia
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 19:32:48

    Bleeding for our craft is sometimes necessary. But a hemorrhage every day starts to feel just cruel and decidedly unnecessary. Thank you for this great post.

  22. KC Herbel
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 23:32:38

    Are you following me with a camera?
    Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty!
    I’ve been guilty of all of these at different times, and all of them at once a few times. Sometimes, I drive me crazy! Thanks for pointing that out to me, Glen. You’re a real pal. But seriously thanks! I know these are all bad, sometimes while I’m doing them, but it helps to hear it from someone else.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 12, 2016 @ 09:03:34

      Hey KC,

      I’m starting to worry about the number of people who think I’m stalking them or reading their minds after reading this post. 😉

      But it’s nice to be able to tap into something that lots of writers are struggling with.

      And like you say, sometimes it’s just useful when someone reminds you what you’re doing. It gives you half a chance to change the behavior.

      Thanks for your comment and good luck with your writing!

      Glen.

  23. Shweta
    Sep 09, 2016 @ 01:05:27

    Hi Glen,
    Great post, because it resonated with me on almost every point.
    And guess what, I started my freelance writing career by starting to write a novel – my own journey, but thankfully I abandoned it within 3 months. It is now on my laptop, tucked away so that I don’t start browsing it again!!
    Keep writing such posts and showing us writers the mirror we manage to avoid.
    You Rock!!
    Shweta.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 12, 2016 @ 09:06:14

      Hi Shweta,

      Don’t feel too bad about that novel! You’re not alone. Three months isn’t too bad. And maybe you’ll return to it one day anyway.

      Thanks for your rocking comment. 🙂

      Cheers

      Glen.

  24. Nadya
    Sep 09, 2016 @ 01:53:07

    You blog is really very good. It has cultivated a new sense of inspiration in me to start a setup of my own. I just love the way you described everything. After reading this blog I think anyone can achieve what they want.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 12, 2016 @ 09:08:00

      Go for it Nadya! Set up a blog of your own. You’ll be amazed where it could lead. 🙂

  25. Vishal Kataria
    Sep 09, 2016 @ 01:59:10

    Gosh! Thank you so much for bringing this up Glen! People keep talking about ‘writer’s block’ and ‘being vulnerable because they put themselves out there’ and ‘being unsure of themselves’.

    Writing has been romanticized and tragedized (is it a word?). For what? To make more people fall in love with the idea of writing, but not to indulge in the remarkably enjoyable task itself.

    Loved how you said bad writers have good days. And point #3 was the wooden stake in the vampire’s heart. If we don’t give writing the respect it deserves, why should it make us feel respected?

    • Glen Long
      Sep 12, 2016 @ 09:10:49

      Hi Vishal. If “tragedized” isn’t a word – it should be! It’s true in many areas of life – if you focus too hard on the result rather than the process you can miss out of a lot of enjoyment. And ironically, you may miss the result too. Cheers, Glen.

  26. Anh Nguyen
    Sep 09, 2016 @ 03:24:56

    Glen,

    Your post hit the nail on the head. As a blogger, I can attest: writing is painful. Aside from no.7 of attempting the hardest task first, I torture(d) myself with all the other methods in a way or another.

    The worst of these is no. 3, creating terrible working conditions. Once upon a time, I was under the illusion that you MUST deliberately suffer to attain success, so working myself to exhaustion with no breaks whatsoever was a daily task, and yes, working with a lot of distractions too.

    Until you actually mentioned things like trying to write away while waiting for your doctor’s appointment, that I realise what a stupid idea it is. Luckily, I don’t do that anymore. The best solution I’ve come up with is to set out a writing ritual everyday. During 1 hour in the morning, no matter what happens, I will show up and write – with 100% focus.

    Thanks for sharing, it was a catharsis to hear someone putting this into word. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Anh

    • Glen Long
      Sep 12, 2016 @ 09:14:11

      Hi Anh,

      We hear about the importance of a writing “habit” a lot but I think your use of the word “ritual” is much more powerful. That’s how it should be – a ritual that we follow no matter what else is going on. I like your style!

      Cheers,

      Glen.

  27. Dominic Chargualaf
    Sep 09, 2016 @ 17:37:00

    Hey Glen,

    Awesome article. I agree with #3. I find myself writing well in the morning. And it takes a lot of energy to create ideas, tell an interesting story and endlessly edit your writing. I have never produced quality work from scraping extra time.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 12, 2016 @ 09:16:37

      Thanks Dominic. Yep – I agree. Time-scraping works for some simple admin tasks related to writing, but it’s terrible for quality work. Thanks for your comment.

  28. Alana
    Sep 10, 2016 @ 09:28:16

    Thank you Glen! My husband and I write together and separately on different projects and him hanging over my shoulder pointing out spelling and grammar is a total buzz kill! I will show him this to prove that writing and editing are two different ball games!

    • Glen Long
      Sep 12, 2016 @ 09:22:34

      Ha – that’s a funny image. Yes, I can imagine having a “vocal passenger” accompanying you on your writing journeys might not be great for your creativity. Tell your husband you welcome his feedback – but only when you’re ready! 🙂

  29. Timmy Brain
    Sep 10, 2016 @ 12:22:49

    Hey Glen,

    You’ve carefully eliminated 7 monsters that tossle with a writer. I think he will be grateful to you forever.

    Off to share my peer what the antidotes look like.

    Should I choose Twitter or Facebook? Perhaps both.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 12, 2016 @ 09:23:02

      Yes both! 🙂

  30. Nivedha S
    Sep 10, 2016 @ 21:04:56

    Hi Glen! I don’t own a blog or anything. I am just curious to know one thing. I had always believed that people write in order to share their views, happiness, sadness and they enjoy doing that. If they are setting up a standard for themselves from their previous work, won’t they know its not healthy for them to continue like that?

    • Glen Long
      Sep 12, 2016 @ 09:26:25

      Hi Nivedha,

      People write for many different reasons. Some do write simply for pleasure or to help them work through problems. Those writers probably don’t torture themselves in these ways. But those who write to have their writing read by others, and perhaps hope to one day make a living, will often set very high standards for themselves. These are the writers this post is aimed at.

      Cheers,

      Glen.

      • Nivedha S
        Sep 12, 2016 @ 11:08:51

        Glen,
        Thank you for your reply. That means a lot.

  31. Alex Maina
    Sep 12, 2016 @ 07:00:18

    I don’t know what to say about this post Glenn. I’m actually here because I had one of those weeks when nothing was working. Guess what, I was looking at others and wondering, why not me? 🙂

    Now that’s what we call mind reading 101.

    Writing is not the easiest thing in the world. I’m glad and sad that I’m not the only one going through this.

    • Glen Long
      Sep 12, 2016 @ 09:29:20

      Hey Alex,

      Sorry you’ve had one of those weeks. It’s all part of the writing process though. The best thing you can do when you’re having a week like that is work out how to break the pattern. See what you can do to win your creativity back. Try something completely new and see how you feel when you return to your writing.

      Good luck!

      Glen.

  32. Laurie
    Sep 12, 2016 @ 12:00:52

    Glen, Loved all these and guilty of all, especially comparison. I’ll feel good about my blog (and my modest subscriber list) until I see another blogger who has 1000’s. I’ll wonder what I’m doing wrong. Many times, it turns out to be nothing. As long as mine’s growing (even slowly), that’s what matters. Thanks for this great pep talk.

  33. Francesco
    Sep 12, 2016 @ 15:26:32

    Hi Glen… I always try writing content for 400 – 500 words, but I want to increase after reading your article. Thank you Glen…

  34. Kiruba Nagini R
    Sep 13, 2016 @ 07:30:04

    Hi Glen
    Apparently, when no fingers are alike, why must the blogs be that are typed by those fingers? Enlightening insight. “Care the content. Scale yourself; not with others”. Nothing is built overnight..isnt it? if at all built, it is agile! So far the traffic, so far the road clear to travel. Feel like giving a hi-fi. Post more! Teach more!

  35. Isaac Anim
    Sep 14, 2016 @ 09:46:16

    I agree with your first point. With the current state of the blogosphere, it is very difficult to become special in your writing, because almost every blog post idea you think about today have already been written somewhere. Writers should not expert their articles to go viral. Your best writing may be another person’s worst.

  36. Isaac Anim
    Sep 14, 2016 @ 09:50:24

    Anyway, how can I subscribe to your feed so I can get a notification any time you guys publish a new post?

  37. Kurt Roswell
    Sep 15, 2016 @ 06:33:01

    It’s really scary putting yourself and your work out there huh? Thanks for putting into words our anxiety, Glen =)

  38. uthman Saheed
    Sep 15, 2016 @ 14:11:57

    What almost killed my blogging ambition in my first year was setting an extremely too high goals to achieve withing a short period of time. Thanks for sharing this.

  39. Sabrina
    Sep 18, 2016 @ 18:24:47

    Guilty of number 3! I’m always trying to squeeze in writing and end up not finishing or having to start over due to lack of time! Thanks for the tips

  40. Sherman Smith
    Sep 18, 2016 @ 23:54:00

    Hey Glen,

    This was well said!

    I do have to admit that there were quite a few times I tortured my self with writing and other ventures, but came to realizing that I was just shooting myself in the foot.

    There have been plenty of “professionals” that tried to teach the “no pain no gain” mentality when in reality it was a set up for constant failure.

    Later I started doing what was best for me which I believe should be emphasized for everyone. With this mentality you’ll stay focus and come out more with your best work.

    Thanks for sharing!

  41. Eme Stephen
    Sep 21, 2016 @ 15:04:45

    No 1, 4 & 6. That’s me.
    Constantly punching myself on the face. Nothing I wrote is ever good.
    Imagine that kind of life

  42. Takara
    Sep 26, 2016 @ 14:46:52

    So true. I love #7. I’ve caught myself thinking that if I’m really a good writer, I should be able to jump into a novel. I should be able to write an amazing novel, right now! It’s more realistic for me to start my writing career with smaller projects while I stregthen my skills. Thanks for all the realism!

  43. Transport George
    Sep 29, 2016 @ 00:45:09

    I am guilty of #6:Hardly have their words hit the page before the self-flagellation about those words commences.

  44. SM Nuruzzaman
    Oct 03, 2016 @ 02:31:08

    Yes, I had been exactly torturing myself before I realized and overcome that. I was lucky because I could really find out my torturing.

    Thanks for reading every writer’s mind.

  45. Karsten
    Oct 10, 2016 @ 03:50:11

    “If your writing week consists of slivers of time duct-taped together, you’re making it almost impossible to gain real traction.”

    Awesome sentence!

    And you hit it spot on for me with the first project being a novel. Short stories here we go.

    Thx

  46. Nancy Foster
    Oct 26, 2016 @ 22:48:48

    Maybe I’m just lucky I’m single, have no bf or children taking away my free time and currently work in the boonies without tv or even remotely decent internet at home. I could get cable tv and somewhat shoddy boradband internet but it would just eat away a huge chunck of my income. I noticed my focus for writing during those long, long afternoons improved ever since my previous laptop died and never reinstalled Age of Empires. Mmmm… That game is sure addictive.

    I’m the kind of writer that does it in bouts. I can spend two weeks fully forgetting about writing my 7th novel because I’m busy with my job or I’m simply not in the mood and then chug 10,000 words in a few hours. Today I chugged nearly 4000 words out of the blue and continued to connect scenes for the final battle. Since writing is more of a hobby I think it should be fun and not grueling. Editing is the time killer but I’ve gotten better at it. I can spend days without any inspiration for a connecting chapter and then I ride a taxi and BOOM! two chapters off the bat.

    I probably won’t be able to enjoy my hobby as much when I start a hectic time consuming job in a few months so I better finish that 7th novel while I still can. Set your special time to writing but unless you have to write books for deadlines to make a living it should be enjoyable! Look at JRR Martin, he takes ages to finish one book.