Why Is Writing So Frustrating?

by Carlos Cooper | 54 comments

I love writing. Isn't it obvious? I mean, I spend my days and nights clacking away, ignoring the world, crafting my latest tome. And yet, every once in a while, the doubt creeps in like a slithering python, ready to chomp down on my creativity.

Why is that? Why can writing be so durned frustrating?

The Writer

photo credit: shorts and longs (cc)

It Ain't Easy Being Cheesy

Art takes work. If you believe differently, you haven't been doing this long enough.

Don't get me wrong, I LOOOOOOOVE writing, but being a writer is not always easy. It takes work. It takes dedication. It takes time.

How's the old saying go? “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” It's true. The fact that it is frustrating makes the journey that much more special. It makes the ending that much more precious.

There's Never Enough Time In The Day

Every day I wish I could stop time in order to write. Could you imagine not being confined by time?

There are so many things that eat up our day (work, bills, kids, etc…) that sometimes it's a wonder that we ever find time to write.

Here's what you have to do: make the time. For example, know that between 9am and 10am it's your writing time. No Facebook, no potty breaks, no eating, nothing but writing. Let your family and friends know that you're not to be disturbed. Guard that time likes it's the most valuable thing you own.

There Is No Black Or White

Writing (especially fiction) is extremely subjective. The other day I got a review that said my story was “implausible.” Dude, it's a novel. It says so at the beginning of the book.

Just like I mentioned in my last post, you will not be able to please everyone. One thousand people may love your latest thriller, but Mr. One Thousand And One will hate it. Frustrating? Yes, it can be, especially if you're new to the game. Don't let that stop you.

Push Past The Frustration

There is so much beauty in the world. Unfortunately, as imperfect human beings, we tend to focus on the negative more times than we'd like to admit. Let's change that. Let's write pieces that inspire. Let's write books that inform. Let's write novels that make people laugh and cherish life.

Sometimes it feels like you have the weight of the world pressing down on your keyboard. Don't let that stop you from writing. We want you to stick around and be part of our family.

What frustrates you most about writing?


For the next fifteen minutes, write about what you would do if you had the power to stop time.

Post your practice in the comments section below and please provide feedback for your peers.

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Carlos is author of the Corps Justice novels. Get the box set of Books 1-3 for FREE HERE.


  1. Christy


    As always I love reading your posts. They are so uplifting and hit the topics right on the head. 🙂

    My current WIP was written during NaNoWriMo. And I thought at the time writing 50,000 words was hard. But as I sit and edit I find that the initial writing process is a cake walk compared to the editing. Also, I am a newbie at taking novel writing seriously and have to say I am completely overwhelmed. Not by the writing itself, but by everything that goes along with it. You are right when you say the struggle is worth it. I feel that now as my WIP is getting closer to being shared.

    If I could stop time (and most importantly, remove distractions) I would hope that I could get out what I wanted to say with my writing. That is what I struggle with the most, getting the thoughts interpreted right when putting it down on paper. Also, if I could stop time, I would continue on this journey and write, write, write. There is nothing more exciting then being on a journey with your characters.

    • Carlos Cooper

      Thanks for your kind words, Christy.

      I know what you’re saying about thoughts transformed to words. I’ve found that it’s important for me not to “think” too much when I’m pounding away at my keyboard. I try to picture myself as a mere conduit gathering thoughts from the air and throwing them into my book. Bottom line: just keep writing 🙂

    • Sandra

      yeah me too. It is amazing to me how the mind without a plan can just go on like it does filling pages if one lets it.

    • Sandra

      I bet editing is pretty hard.

  2. dunstim

    I cannot concur. Though there is a universe of frustration for me associated with writing, it is not the act of writing (which charges and empowers me), but the getting down to writing that is the source of this frustration. Once writing I remain in a near ecstatic state till the rush ceases.

    • Carlos Cooper

      Glad to hear it. I could write a lot more about the act of sitting down to write 🙂

      Thanks for your comments!

    • Sandra

      good for you. 🙂

    • Susan w a

      I love hearing comments like that about the ecstasy of writing … for I am not one of those writers . I’m new at this realm and am fascinated and grateful to be granted a window into the rich perspectives of passionate writers. I value the exploration and nurturing of the bud of a writing practice with such remarkable opportunities to delve daily into this writing/responding environment and to be accepted as an equal in the community.

      Thanks for all the inspiration.

  3. George McNeese

    If I had the power to stop time, I would spend it writing my short stories. Silencing my inner critic is what frustrates me. I can’t bring myself to put words on a blank screen, knowing that the pessimist within me is chatting away, telling me I’m not good enough. I agree with pushing past the frustration. I know people will not like the stories I want to tell. It should not deter me from what I want to do. I have to work the courage to put words onto the white screen; the sane courage it takes to put pen to paper.

    • Carlos Cooper

      Just do it 🙂
      Thanks for your thoughts, George!

    • Sandra

      I have a strong inner critique too because I write something and I often know it starts out pretty bad. But if I don’t write it bad first, the flip side is I eventually will never know what good thing I could write.
      And I often deal with the feeling of writing things that people won’t like or agree with. We have a social persona and we also have our truer self, and as we get older often the goal is to become slowly truer to our truer self and so the persona does not hide that anymore. It is a difficult process I know for me. But I think at the end of it, it must be truly liberating to live true to yourself.

    • retrogeegee

      In order to overcome my inner critic, I set a daily discipline of writing anything using 1000 words each weekday. If I write on weekends, I consider it a bonus. Now my big problem is how to use what I have written, but I still keep up the daily discipline.

    • Kate

      Doing NaNoWriMo every year has helped me to battle that inner critic, but it’s still a daily struggle. Get it written first, then get it right!

  4. Young_Cougar

    If I could just freeze time, I would read, learn and write the whole time. Read articles on the computer, books, magazines, anything. I would dedicate myself to learning poetry, cartography, math, car maintenance, gardening, anything and everything. And then least of all, (Not most because even when I do have time I tend to avoid writing) I would sit down and write miracles and art. That’s what I would do if time froze.
    – This is very interesting because I was just talking about freeing time and all with my dad last night. What the most frustrating thing about writing? The annoying doubts and fear. The fear that makes you get up and clean the house or color coordinate the dishes rather then sit down and work.

    • Carlos Cooper

      Love it. Thanks for sharing, YC!

    • Sandra

      I know what you mean. There is so much I want to learn. Sometimes I think I just want to learn everything, even though I know that is impossible.

  5. retrogeegee

    What I would do if I could freeze time is use that time to think through in writing plot, character, and major theme. Lately I have been haunted by the lack of know how in structuring a memoir or a novel. Every time I get a sense of what direction I might want to take, I come across a new piece of information which overwhelms the last piece of information. If time were frozen I would be able to use the one new piece of information successfully before juggling another. Its like wanting to build a home but not have the skill of architect, carpenter, plumber, electrician and interior decorator. I can read a well crafted novel, and admire its ability to deliver, characters I care about, dialogue that is memorable,and plot that is incentive enough to keep turning pages into the wee hours of the morning. Then when I think about that book after I have finished reading it, I can only wonder how the author found that thread he or she wove through the beginning to the end of the story without getting it all tangled up or broken off. When I look at what I have written I cannot find a way to bring all together. A story without a structure is like a house without the proper accessories like plumbing, heating, wiring that make life so comfortable. Structure and details that’s all I would do with frozen time. Instead I freeze.

    • Valentino Diaz III


      I definitely understand your frustration. I recently completed my first novel, and I have to say it seemed an overwhelming task at first. For what it’s worth I can just tell you that the thing that helped me finish was setting definite goals that I needed to complete. I committed to writing two chapters every month. Some months I finished early and started on the next, a few times I was cramming to get it all in.

      I also had a general outline of how I wanted the story to play out, including a few quick notes for what each chapter should focus on. I will say this, the final product ended up being considerably different than what I first envisioned. As I wrote and revised, and revised, and revised. I ended up changing some major plot points and even character traits. I didn’t realize one of my main characters was homosexual until the very end!

      It was tedious, and sometimes very very frustrating having to go back over everything I had already written to make sure things stayed consistent. However I can not overstate the value of simply forcing myself to write, daily, no matter how creative I was feeling. You can always change what you’ve written, and as long as you are putting words to page and moving the story forward it will unfold for you.

      Also take lots of notes, and tell everyone you are writing a book. I figured if I told everyone I was writing a novel then I had to actually do it, otherwise I would like a royal (insert colorful insult here). Hope that gives you some encouragement. You may not feel like you have all the qualities necessary, but then again I doubt anyone thinks they’ll set the world on fire with their first book so keep at it and if you can see yourself doing it then you can do it.

    • Carlos Cooper

      Keep it simple at first. Beginning, middle and end. It may be best to start with short pieces, develop your voice and style. No one says you have to start out writing a 100,000 word novel 🙂
      Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sandra

    I would allow myself to write badly, even worse then normal for the sake of figuring out the story.

    And then when I found it I would write it. And when I wrote it I would believe in it and learn from it. Because our stories are parts of ourselves, and I think parts of others too, which is why others gain from it. We are in a web together, connected, and the stories we tell is how we learn about ourselves.

    • Adam

      Well put. Our stories are definitely parts of ourselves and I think that good stories are those that people can look into and see themselves, or look out of and see themselves in a different way.

  7. Jordan

    If I could stop time, I’d spend all of reading, learning new skills, and writing. This is, of course, outside of all the other awesome stuff I would do. Has anyone seen the movie Clock Stoppers? That has always been my dream. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to walk through a pool with time stopped? I’d get really close to dangerous animals. Look around all of my neighbors’ houses. Walk or bike everywhere. Take the long way. Never forget to tell my family I love them.

    After all that got boring, I’d learn all the things I’ve always wanted to learn. I’d spend time learning about math, physics, programming, and finance. I’d read plenty of creative writing as well. I’d be current with all my favorite literary journals, read all the pop-fiction I’ve been missing and as many classics as I could stand. After all of this, I’d unfreeze time and sit down and write again and again.

    • Eliese

      I remember the movie and thought of it too. Learning and reading would be such a great way to spend frozen time as well. Nice

    • Carlos Cooper

      “I’d learn all the things I’ve always wanted to learn.”
      Me too 🙂
      Thanks for sharing, Jordan!

    • Kate

      Ooh, getting close to dangerous animals, good idea! See the world as up close as possible.

  8. louise

    If I could freeze time I would disregard all the things I think I should do and do all the things I must do. All those dreams that ignite that spark deep inside me and fan it to flame. I would sing with abandon and from the heart. I would tell people my deepest truths without fear or shame. I would get my psychology degree with honours! Learn to play the guitar and the drums. I would learn to love myself and in turn love the ones closest to me better. I would learn how to be whole and complete. And when time unfroze I would live that way and then maybe others would follow. I would write a truth that reached out and touched the hearts and souls of exactly the people who needed to know it. I would heal and be healed because that is what I think is my calling.

    • Young_Cougar

      Can I just say one thing….^I’m in love with that. Now how do I marry words?

    • Eliese


    • Carlos Cooper

      Fantastic. It sounds like you know what you want 🙂
      Thanks for sharing, Louise!

    • George McNeese

      Very realistic goals. Makes me want to go back to school to pursue a Master’s in Fine Arts. I completely agree with learning to love yourself. I struggle with that often, which is probably why I don’t write as often as I should: the whole inner critic thing. I would love to follow your steps on living a more fulfilled life. I think the key is to not take yourself or others for granted. Allow yourself some leeway and be gracious toward others, even if you feel they don’t deserve it. In the end, you’ll be a better person.

    • Kate

      Yes to education and music!

  9. Adam

    The words are leaving my mouth; their fingers are reaching, straining for the attention of the universe. There’s no going back now. My father is sitting, staring at me with that look of rage that I’ve grown accustom to for so long; my mother, breathing in great gulps of the oxygen that we all unwillingly share, is tired, crestfallen already from having yelled for so long.

    And everything suddenly stops. The candle’s flickering flame freezes and the barely visible shadows of our cups and plates, the bowl of salad and the half-eaten chicken, our chairs and bodies, stick to the planes they are cast upon.

    If I could, I would hold onto this suspension forever. I’d run through my childhood and the endless summer days and hidden frogs, bicycle rides, sunset rooftops, and firework showers. I’d make it last and dream forever. If I could, if the words that were spreading from my barely-open mouth would stop where they were and drop onto the table and drip past this floor, past the foundation of our family house and into the soils of the earth that will swallow us all, I wouldn’t say that I hadn’t cared for such a long time.

    • Eliese

      Beautiful descriptions of time stopping. This makes me want to know why the characters parents were so angry and tired, and what they were saying. I like that your dreams would be to relive childhood.

    • Adam

      The time stop descriptions were a lot of fun. Thanks for reading 🙂

    • Carlos Cooper

      “I wouldn’t say that I hadn’t cared for such a long time.”
      There’s a story in that one line 🙂
      Thanks for sharing, Adam!

    • Adam

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂

  10. Eliese

    “Stop!” I silently yell to the constant rhythm of never ending, never pausing time. I can’t take this anymore. When will I have a second to myself? Sleep clings to my dried out brown eyes causing my lids to stick every time I blink. The house needs, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, and organizing; again. My two year old son Peyton runs around the house yelling “No pants.” I am trying to cook dinner in the midst of all this chaos while daydreaming of my characters that are waiting to come to life in my novel.

    “Please just stop.” I beg time once more. It listens. The world pauses. The first thing I notice is that the boiling tomato sauce has ceased its bubbling. Then I hear the quiet. There is not a sound. The silence is strange and almost defining. Panic creeps into my heart. Is Peyton alright?

    I race to the living room to find him standing on the couch and staring at a blue toy truck that he must of tossed across the room. The toy is motionless in the middle of the room. My heart swells at the pure delight and innocence that fills my sweet little boy’s face. I wave my hand in front of him, but he doesn’t move.

    “Do you want a cookie?” I ask the one thing that should get him talking nothing. Amazing.

    Sitting on the cream chair next the toddler is my sleeping husband. Being motionless is not anything unusual for him. His bushy brown beard is being squished by the scratchy armchair fabric. He looks so peaceful.

    Sleep. I can do that now and so much more. With time on stand still I can write and read and watch a movie and clean and take a bubble bath. What to I want to do first? I am afraid that if I fall into dreams that I will awake to find that this gift of time was nothing more than my imagination.

    I believe this miracle will not last, and was meant for to do the one thing I have not been able to do for a long time. Already I can feel the need within my spirit calling to my fingers to compose what’s in my heart. With this free moment I will write again at last. I sit at the computer and let my fingers tap out the music of my soul.

    Five minutes later I am asleep.

    • Carlos Cooper

      “I sit at the computer and let my fingers tap out the music of my soul. Five minutes later I am asleep.”

      I guess sometimes all we need is sleep 🙂
      Thanks for sharing, Eliese!

    • Eliese

      I was pretty tired yesterday, (this week:P) plus I wrote this before bed. Can you tell lol? Thanks for the comment!

    • Kate

      This is everything. Sounds so much like my life! (My toddler also disdains wearing pants.) Great writing, thanks for sharing!

    • Eliese

      Thanks 😀

  11. Yitzchak Young

    And the snowfall slowed, the fire stilled, and the rays of light beaming through her parlor window became like sheets of glass. Adelaide shot a glance to her right and left, up and down, but her eyes met the same phenomenon. Hesitant, she set her pen back into its ink before rising from her seat. The dust which so eagerly invaded her room appeared as though caught within a fragment of time. A thought suggested her to touch them, but she feared it would cause her day to resume.
    And then, as a child on Christmas morning, she ran back into her seat and scooped up her pen.
    Time, she squealed, I’ve finally caught you.
    A dream that was dreamed decades ago had finally come to fruition, and by Gods name, she would first die before letting it go to waste. A story was yearning to be told, and nothing would get in her way.

    • Carlos Cooper

      “Time, she squealed, I’ve finally caught you.”
      Great line.

      Thanks for sharing!

  12. Jaime D. Buckley

    THIS IS YOUR TEXT FAIRY: It’s official, YOU’RE AWESOME. We can’t publish that openly, but we wanted you to know that we think that around the water cooler. Keep on writing, because no one’s gonna understand how brilliant you are until you show them!

    Awesome article.

    • Carlos Cooper

      You are awesome

  13. Wanda Kiernan

    I love this: “Let’s write pieces that inspire. Let’s write books that inform. Let’s write novels that make people laugh and cherish life.” I get frustrated when my writing is not taken seriously because there isn’t enough heart wrenching/soul wrenching drama or conflict. Sometimes I just want to write a story where an inherently good person is inspired to be or do better because of a positive experience. Later for the drama.

    • Carlos Cooper

      Thanks, Wanda! Follow your heart in your writing. If you stay true, the readers will find you. Oh, and don’t forget to have an awesome book cover 🙂
      Thanks for sharing!

  14. Kate

    If I had the power to stop time, I would read
    all the books on my shelf, go for long runs and workouts, and sleep. Of course,
    I would also dive into my novels and stories and poke at them to my heart’s
    content, writing and rewriting and bringing them to life. The question that
    comes to my mind, though, is whether in stopping time, I would be outside of it
    as well? I mean, does everyone around me freeze but I keep aging? Am I going to
    look ten years older than everyone else in five years’ time? Because that poses
    a problem. But yes, with all the chores and responsibilities on my plate on a
    daily basis, I wish all the time that I could just carve out an hour or two to
    just sit. Sit, maybe sip a tea or coffee, outside somewhere, listen to nature
    and read a book or scribble down a scene in a notebook. I’m just so tired of
    having to run from one thing to the next – work, commute, picking up the kid,
    making dinner, doing laundry, cleaning up, squeezing in writing, going to bed
    to do it all over again. It’s the daily grind, isn’t it? But it’s exhausting.
    It exhausts my soul, and I actually like my job for once (not my passion, of
    course, but I like it enough to be here every day). It’s so hard to find the
    alone time, the quiet time, that we need to write and create. I would love to
    steal some time away. It would be heavenly to be able to curl up and get comfortable
    with a book and be able to really sink into it without having to keep an ear
    out for a child who needs me or something that needs doing. To just relax with
    words and characters and other worlds, in my writing or someone else’s.

    • Eliese

      I understand your wants and needs if you could stop time. I liked how you wondered if time would keep aging you. Funny and true. I hope you can find time to do those things you want.

    • Carlos Cooper

      Hmmm aging. Good point. Let’s pretend we wouldn’t 🙂

      Thanks for sharing, Kate!

  15. Zach P

    If I could stop time…I’d be downright miserable. It would drive me crazy, knowing that I have unlimited time. I’d feel like I was cheating. Would I freeze time to become a great writer, or would I just watch every mildly good tv show in existence. I imagine I’d do both and then eventually get sick of doing everything. I wouldn’t run out of time but eventually I’d run out of energy. If I could stop time I’d read countless books. But then there are almost an infinite number of good books in the world. How long would I spend reading before I was burnt out on it all? And what do I do with this power as I get older? Would I ever let myself age and die? Or would I be too terrified? Would I freeze myself into an isolated never ending existence? I think I’d probably try. But like everything else I’d ever done in my life, I’d eventually get sick of that too. I’d eventually let myself go. By then I will have led a life that lasted too long, full of accomplishments that had lost their meaning long ago.
    It’s better that we can’t stop time because time give our lives meaning. Its finite nature pushes us to make choices. What are we going to do with our limited lifespans? What are we going to be good at? What are we going to enjoy? We figure these things out because we know we only have this one chance to do so.
    The universe is a big place. We don’t know our true purpose in it. We aren’t supposed to. But we know that we’re going to die. We know that we’re running out of time. That’s why we have to live.



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