by Elizabeth Huff

  1. Lack  of Time – A big obstacle, but with a little determination and willpower it can be overcome. If you don’t have time to write a full story, how about just brainstorming some possible story ideas for later? You can also hone your speed writing skills and try to write a short-short story. You can edit later if necessary.
  2. Disorganization – For me this is a big problem, I make folders and files but somehow everything still ends up in a miscellaneous stack. I have found that it is easier to have a simple organizational structure with broad categories. Then at least I’m only sorting through a little bit of a jumble.
  3. T.V. – Major time suck. I have found that I usually get some good ideas for my own writing while watching it. My advice is to try to keep it off as much as possible, but if you do succumb to temptation, keep an idea book handy where you can write down any sudden bursts of inspiration. Also try watching tv with a writer’s mindset. Ask “what if” questions and think of possible side stories you can tweak into your own.
  4. Family Obligations – You can’t always get out of responsibilities that come with a family, but you can still use the time to your advantage. Keep a notebook handy and record the funny thing that uncle Charlie said, record how the neon green dress your aunt wore made her look like a giant lime. Maybe you’ll get lucky and something will happen that will spark a story idea. Maybe you can record great-grandma’s story about the time she met the president.
  5. Internet – How did we live without the mind numbing glow of the computer screen? This is another big time suck. Unfortunately, other than keeping the computer off when it’s writing time, I don’t really have a lot of ideas. If I must use the computer for research or whatever, I try to use it towards the end of writing time because I tend to get easily sidetracked. This seems to require more discipline than I can usually muster. Here’s another trick, you can try to set up another user account on your computer, and then block all of the time-wasting websites you usually go to.
  6. Too Much Time – What? Too much time to write? Impossible! Actually, if you have too much time to write, it can be even easier to fall into a habit of procrastination. To beat this you can keep track of what needs to be done. Make a “to do” list of everything you would like to accomplish that day, week, month, etc., or write down the steps you need to take to achieve a writing goal. It can also help to break up your time into smaller, more easily managed blocks. Try making yourself a schedule (like you used to have at school).
  7. Work – If, being a struggling writer like myself, you have a day job, then chances are you are probably spending much of your precious potential writing time there. How to combine work with your passion? Try to keep a notebook at work. Write down what coworkers and customers say, that happy or frustrating moment, something stupid that was done, brainstorm new writing ideas. If for whatever reason you cannot take a notebook to work, try to keep one in your car, or incorporate writing into your work life by starting or contributing to a work newsletter. How about just writing down a couple of stories that you don’t mind sharing and getting people’s feedback?

Can you think of any other obstacles to writing or ways to avoid the ones listed? I’d love to hear them!