Wednesday, October 7, 2020

7 Tips to Deal with Writer Woes

by Sarah Sally Hamer @SarahSallyHamer

What exactly are writer woes? Each person has their own, very personal, set of things that bother, abuse, and worry us. It could be a chunk of time where we just can't write. Or when everything that hits the page looks like a gooey, ooey, screwed up mess. Or when we've gotten a critique or review that sets our hair on fire before we plunge into the depths of despair. 

Sigh. Sound familiar? 

Don't. Give. Up!

Writing or, in other words, cutting a vein and letting our soul drip out onto a page, can force us to re-evaluate our path occasionally. And that's not a bad thing.

So here are 7 tips to get you through the worst of it.
  1. Find a friend. Writing does NOT have to be solitary. My weekly "Lunch Bunch" of five or six people not only is my cheering squad, but also people who are as passionate as I am about writing. We commiserate things that don't go right, brainstorm new ideas, and laugh a lot. Even if you can't meet in person, the internet-sharing programs or even the good old reliable phone, can help you find someone to talk to.
  2. Take a class. There are lots and lots of writing classes on line that can rekindle those creative juices. Try a new one or revisit something you've done before. Participation is the best way not only to learn but also to find friends who can't NOT write, same as me, so I recommend that you use that opportunity to connect.
  3. Turn off social media and the TV! Or at least limit it. Creativity can't thrive in a stressful environment and, God knows, it's been stressful this year. 
  4. Focus on outcome. It's not that the process itself shouldn't be considered and savored, but focusing on that bad review or writer's block or what you don't have control over, is the best way to impede progress and drag us down into a deep funk. What do you want? What are you writing for? Imagine how you'll feel when you complete that project. Allow yourself to get excited about your story and the page you're writing! Make a list of what you've done well and the good things people have said about you and/or your writing. I keep my writing trophies on the shelf where I can see them and have taken quotes from contest judges and editors and readers who liked my stuff and written them on a sign that hangs on my wall above my desk. Yes, even rejection letters can say good things about your work – I have several framed and look at them often. You may not have any, but can you imagine what you'd like to hear said about your writing? Focus on what you WANT, not what you DON'T WANT. 
  5. Find joy in what you do. It's there, hidden somewhere under the pages of notes on your desk or in the research books on your shelf. There's a how-to-clean-your-house book out there that tells us to pick up an object and hug it. Does it bring joy? Or sadness? Do the same thing – at least in your mind – with your story. If you're not feeling it, if it doesn't spark excitement, then it may not be the right thing for you to work on right now. Or at least until you remember what you loved about it in the first place. Look for that, and you'll find it.
  6. Take a break. Sometimes creativity needs to be coaxed. It's not about pushing and scrambling and impatience. Instead, treating our imagination with respect can bring new ideas and understandings of exactly what we want to say.
  7. Remember, you HAVE something to say. You don't have to be an expert to write down your own story. In fact, you ARE the expert on you. 
So write what you love, what calls to you, what means something to you. 

And focus!

What is it about writing that brings you joy?


Sarah (Sally) Hamer is a lover of books, a teacher of writers, and a believer in a good story. Most of all, she is eternally fascinated by people and how they 'tick'. She’s passionate about helping people tell their own stories, whether through fiction or through memoir. Writing in many genres - mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, medieval history, non-fiction – she has won awards at both local and national levels, including two Golden Heart finals.

A teacher of memoir, beginning and advanced creative fiction writing, and screenwriting at Louisiana State University in Shreveport for almost twenty years, she also teaches online for Margie Lawson at Sally is a free-lance editor and book coach at Touch Not the Cat Books, with many of her students and clients becoming successful, award-winning authors. 

You can find her at or

From Sally: I wish to express gratitude to the giants whose shoulders I stand on and who taught me so much about the writing craft. I would list every one, if it were only possible.


  1. Sally,

    eWhat a great series of tips for every writer. We do have things that throw us off our writing game but one of the keys I've found is to switch into something else (even for a bit) then return to your writing task. Also it's key to continue and not give up. Too many writers give up and don't complete the task for lack of follow through.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

    1. Thank you, Terry! I agree that switching up is a great way to not give up. Thanks for adding to my list.

  2. Very helpful and practical tips, Sarah. My biggest challenge is taking a mental break from writing. Even when I am not at the computer, my mind is still there. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Crystal. I have the same problem with those mental breaks. I tend to circle a situation in my mind, and have to find something fun to do to stop it.

      But it eventually works itself out. :)

  3. Thanks, Cathy! Best wishes on your writing journey!

  4. Social media is a time pit. And take a break? I found myself writing a book in my dreams a month or so ago about artificial intelligence...of all things. LOL Donevy

  5. LOL! Yes, it's a deep, endless, hole of devastation. Oh, I guess I really don't mean that -- after all, I enjoy the family in ways I couldn't before I had it. And, it can certainly be a good marketing tool. But it sucks me in so quickly I get lost before I know it.

    AI, huh? Interesting! I love it when I dream of story ideas!

  6. Thank you, Sally, for these ideas to encourage us during these difficult times!