The Unpleasant Parts of Writing

The Unpleasant Parts of WritingI often talk about the good parts of writing on here. The things that make it worth it, and the things that bring us writers together. But writing is not just one big wonderful ball of enjoyment and pleasure. There are aspects of it that I would liken to psychological torture, or perhaps, for the less dramatic, the sound of nails on a chalkboard.

Some of the things that I most abhor about being a professional writer include:

Editing my own work. Seriously, it’s the worst. Once I write something, I want to publish it and be done. I don’t want to look it over, and I really don’t want to read it more than once. As a writer, though, I can’t do it. To pass it off to another editor or writer without even giving it a once over would be quite rude.

Of course, editing the work of someone else is a different beast that I actually enjoy. I would describe it as being like an Easter egg hunt, in that I know there are errors somewhere, I just have to find them.

Writing short copy. Oh, the agony! I find it so boring to sit and think of five different ways to say the same sentence or phrase. I’m good at it, and when it’s done I feel satisfied for having said something in the best way that it could be said, but I really can’t say that I enjoy the process itself. It’s like fishing in a way, waiting for the perfect wording to come to you, baiting it with lesser words and combinations. Hoping something bigger bites so that you don’t end up leaving the office knowing you could have done better.

Finding clients. I haven’t done much of this in a long time, but when this was a focus of my every day life, I found it to be so daunting. I guess I am just better suited to having employment contracts as opposed to relying completely on what business I can drum up.

Writing poorly because that’s what someone else wants. Sometimes clients and employers want what they want. Sometimes, that means writing content that you don’t want to, or writing content in a way that you don’t want to. Sometimes clients may want something that isn’t grammatically correct because it looks or sounds better. Sometimes they want you to mask some tricky marketing message with a bunch of fluff. A sad reality is that your writing may not always be something that you are proud of.

Writer’s block. Thankfully this doesn’t happen to me too often, but when it does I feel like a useless lump. It happened to me today, but I forced myself to write because that what we have to do. The fairy tale notion that movies portray of writers doing what they want to most of the time, and then sitting down one evening, apparently inspired, to write a bestseller is ridiculous. Many of us don’t have the luxury of choosing when we write, but do it either because it’s the only time we have, or because we are paid to do things by deadlines.

Running out of books. Lastly, and this is one that I am suffering from at this very moment, having nothing to read. I have reread everything on my shelf at least once, I have no book orders on the way, and anything that I actually do want to read is packed away in another province out of my reach. I haven’t seen anything I want to pick up lately, and I haven’t received any recommendations that I really wanted to pursue for some time. I’m really just craving a long series or the release of paperback versions of new books that I want to read. It makes me feel like I am in purgatory and it’s quite unpleasant.

I am certain that not all of you will have the same list of negatives as I do. If you did, the writing profession would certainly be a dull and boring thing.

So, what do you dislike the most about writing? Does it change based on how your writing is going?

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23 thoughts on “The Unpleasant Parts of Writing

  1. I have to make a list? Lack of time, nothing I want to write, too many distractions, when the words or the story just doesn’t sound right, etc.

    By the way, I might have some books you can read. The Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud is pretty good. It’s got some similarities to Harry Potter, but the magic is based on summoning demons and the characters are so much fun. I also recommend The Age of Misrule by Mark Chadbourn and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacciagalupi (might have misspelled that last name).

    I also have some books by friends. More Deaths Than One by Pat Bertram, Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri, Whiskey Delta by Matthew Williams. And if you ever want to read anything by me, you’ll make my day.

  2. As a new writer, my main frustrations mainly having to do with finding out the things I’m good at writing about and also writing well. There are lots of things I’m interested in and willing to learn about them, but I’m hit with the constant fear that I don’t quite know what I’m doing. It definitely holds me back.

    On the more minor things, editing is definitely a pain. Sometimes when I read my own work, I just simply can’t find another way to put it. Unfortunately, I don’t have someone to run it by every time so I’m my only resource.

    • I read something today, a quote, that said “The greater the writer, the greater the doubt”. I’m not sure how true it is, but it was heartening. Learning anything new is always difficult, so don’t feel as if you’re the only one who struggles. Even those of us who have some experience under our belts question every project, sometimes even every word.

      • Thank you for your encouragement. That quote definitely gives me a lot of reassurance, thanks for sharing it! I guess a part of being a writer is learning to overcome self-doubt and persevere. That is something I’ll have to work on for the future.

  3. Interesting views and nicely put! I just finished writing my first 62,000 word romance novel, and I agree, editing my own work was tedious and almost pointless after a point in time. I’ve read, re-read, edited, re-worked, read, read, and read some more. Eventually, it came to the point that I wasn’t reading the words. Instead, I read my book as if I had the words memorized, or how I thought it should read though the words were different. The next step for me in my literary journey was finding an editor, not just any editor, but one with credibility and rewards. Yes, it took time, but I found her. She turned my story and made it professional; and most importantly, I learned a great deal from her.

    Finally, I must leave with one last comment. When I have nothing fun or romantic to read, and I’ve already spent hours reading synopsis after synopsis, and still found nothing…depressing. Maybe I’m a book addict, but nothing could be worse! I take that back; what was worse was when I was forced to wait until morning, when the book store opened, to look for my next book; thank you Kindle. 🙏🏻

    Reach me at

    • Alas, I don’t own an ereader (no do I have any desire to), so I must still wait and wait and wait for book orders to get here.

      Editing your own work is painful, whether it is a long piece, or even something short. Where I work, there are other people with writing/editing degrees, so I have a few options when I need another set of eyes. It makes things a lot easier.

      Congrats on finishing your novel!

  4. Great post – I am just an amateur trying to make a career for myself writing fiction. I also like editing other people’s writing – most of what I do there is read over my kids’ essays! I know what you mean about being on an Easter egg hunt. The hardest part of writing for me is writing a good plot. I have lots of character ideas and I like to develop them, but it’s hard for me to get them all together into a good story.

  5. I always feel that my work is horrible though people have told me that I am very talented. Also I have times where I have not written a thing for weeks. I always feel horrible and so out of practice.

    • We all doubt. Don’t feel like that’s a bad thing. I think that questioning yourself makes you better because you will always make your work the best that it can be. 🙂

      • I hope so because I always have dreamed about being an author and I created this blog so that I could receive input from writers like yourself.

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