Saturday, December 3, 2022

3 Reasons Why It's So Hard to Be a Writer

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

Why is writing so hard?

I mean, all you do is string a bunch of words together. Easy peasy, right? My three-year-old niece can do it.

Of course, Red Smith, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning sportscaster (think about that), had a different view. “Writing is easy. All you have to do is sit down at the typewriter, cut open a vein, and bleed.”

A little gross, but I get it. (And I wonder if my editor would make Pulitzer-Prize-winning Red take out down in the above sentence.)

Which takes us back to why writing can be so hard.

Now, I grew up on a farm. Work is planting trees, gathering bales of hay, moving baskets of peaches. Work is supposed to make you sweat. That’s why sometimes (okay, often) emptying the laundry basket or mowing the grass slips before writing. The empty basket or the freshly cut lawn is something I can see.

I identify with the story of the host who asked his guest, Oscar Wilde, what he did one morning. Wilde responded he had spent the day in hard literary work. The host asked what he had done.

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all morning and took out a comma.”

His host puffed on his pipe. “And in the afternoon?”

“In the afternoon, well, I put it back again.”

I can identify with this. And the fatigue and angst that Wilde’s struggle required. It takes a lot of effort to build, mold, and polish a sentence or paragraph, just to cut it out later.

English author Neil Gaiman understood. He said, “Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper and quite often the blank sheet of paper wins.”

I believe a certain amount of frustration is part of being a writer. (Doesn’t that just warm your heart?) Because some frustrations can be beneficial.

3 Frustrations of Being a Writer

1. Trying to find your place.

When I left work to stay home and began to write, I didn’t have a clue what that meant. My writing heroes were Max Lucado and John Grisham. There’s quite a gap between my life and theirs. Think of the Grand Canyon. Think Earth to Mars.

So, what should my life as a writer look like?

As I’ve written many times here, one of the best things I did as a young writer was to find a local writing group that met in person. And I think meeting in person was important. I needed to see that real people like me were finding ways to use and grow their talent. I didn’t know how many avenues there were out there for writers. And when we went around the room telling successes, even the rejections, it showed me the opportunities that are out there.

Whether it’s ACFW, Word Weavers, or something else, I would highly recommend finding a group of local writers.

2. Trying to copy the story in your head.

Any writing or story begins with a seed of an idea in someone’s head. Whether it’s a dream or a bunch of synapses firing while you’re staring at the wall, every story begins with an idea. Then we take that picture in our heads and try to put it on paper. Hahaha. How foolish can we be?

But it’s amazing how with time and work, we begin to find clarity with our story. Sometimes the story becomes clearer, sometimes we discover the story changing. Often, my ultimate story differs greatly from the idea, but that’s okay. The finished story is worth sharing.

3. Trying too hard to meet expectations.

It is so easy, whether for a new or an experienced writer, to think they should be at a certain level or met certain goals. I mean, look at who won the award. Really?

Or, look at the following so-and-so has on social media. Well, I should...

Yeah. You never win the game of comparisons. The green monster of envy. Your brain always picks someone it believes is ‘ahead of you’ (Whatever that means.). 

My social media numbers exist, but that’s about all they’re doing. I’m told by ‘them’ that my numbers aren’t good enough. My twitter account is for the birds.

But a cool thing happened last week. One of Hallmark’s stars started following me. How cool is that?

I don’t care how many people she follows, or if her account is handled by a VA, or even by a bot. I have a connection with the star of the movies my wife and I like to watch.

When you think about it, why should writing be any different from life? And if we are writing to help our readers better understand and navigate life, shouldn’t we have the same type of experiences?

I believe the reason for much of our frustrations can be found in one of my favorite songs by Amy Grant. In her song, Mountaintop, she sang that she wished she could stay on the top of the mountain fellowshipping with the Lord. But that wasn’t where God wanted her to stay. She had to come down so she can tell others they could go to the mountain, too.

Our frustrations may be like that. Through our work and struggles, our wanting to quit or throw the laptop out a window (Or so I’ve heard.), we understand what our readers are going through. And we can show them why the struggle and journey are worth all the frustration.


Tim Suddeth is a stay-at-home dad and butler for his wonderful, adult son with autism. He has written numerous blogs posts, short stories, and three novels waiting for publication. He is a frequent attendee at writers’ conferences, including the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and a member of Word Weavers and ACFW. He lives near Greenville, SC where he shares a house with a bossy Shorky and three too-curious Persians. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter, as well as at and

Featured Image: Photo by Beth Jnr on Unsplash


  1. Tim,

    Thank you for this article. After decades in the publishing world, I agree with you that writing is hard. It is hard to find your place in the publishing community. Each of us have to knock on many doors before they open (including me). Also meet as many people as you can because who you know is important. Persistence and perserverance are also important characteristics in this journey to keep on keeping on.

    author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition)

  2. Thanks for the encouragement today, Tim. Community with other writers is so important and it's always nice to know we can find it here.