Seven Reasons Why You May Find Writing Difficult
Producing written content such as articles, essays, reports or even diary entries often feels like a difficult task. But If you unscramble the whole process of writing to the basics, you will notice that there is nothing mysterious about the activity.
There are two elements in a written material — words and ideas. If English has been your native language, you should have already possessed a big enough vocabulary to cover almost every non-technical scenarios. In fact, the best books are usually written using words and phrases most readers could understand.
What about ideas?
Everyone has an endless supply of ideas. For example, ideas can be drawn from your own life experiences or borrowed from other people. And finally ideas can be created as well.
Therefore you have already possessed all you need to be a prolific writer, why is writing so difficult for you? Why are you frequently bogged down by the so called “writer’s block”.
I have summarised seven main reasons why you may feel difficult to write content.
1. Your focus is too broad for the length of the content you are about to write.
For example, if you are thinking about writing a 500 to 1000 words article, writing about how to exercise is not nearly as easy as a simple but effective workout routine. This is because a broad topic has many angles and nuances to write about. It triggers numerous associations in your brain, as the result, you tend to get caught up in what is known in psychology as cognitive dissonance. That is why you may have the feeling of not knowing where to start.
2. You are trying to write about a topic you are not familiar with.
This is usually the case with technical or academic writing. You may find rather difficult to write about the life cycle of malaria if know nothing about it. To tackle an unfamiliar topic, there is usually a research process proceeding the writing phase. It depends on the level of complexity of the topic. A PhD student can spend a significant amount of time reading literatures and gathering data. On the other hand, if you are writing an article about how does compound interest work, reading a few articles on the internet might just give you all the information you need.
3. Your motivation to write is not big enough.
This I felt is the number one reason why many people give up on writing for good. Writing can take a considerable amount of time and energy. It is simply not something you can complete in five minutes. There has to be a reason big enough for you to sit down and write. For some people, this reason is external, such as that a looming deadline is pressuring them to produce a report. Failing to meet the deadline has dire consequences. Just think about what it was like to complete an essay in a major exam.
External pressure can motivate you in the short term when you are right in the midst of it. But for the long term, the reason to pursue writing has to be something intrinsic like passion.
4. You are trying to be perfect.
Setting a high standard for yourself is admirable, but trying to be a perfectionist is detrimental. You may be unconsciously aiming for a masterpiece like War and Peace every time you try to write. As a result, your brain evaluates every bit of ideas popped up in your head. You can probably imagine how many ideas will be rejected when they are judged against such an impossible standard. Not surprisingly, hours could pass by without a single sentence appearing in your writing space.
5. Writing reminds you of too much pain.
This stems from your past experiences. You may have been criticised unkindly by someone for your school assignments. Or you may have been penalised for doing something naughty when you were young, and writing was used by your teacher as a form of penalty. Whatever it might be, those unpleasant episodes of the past could have linked the act of writing to enormous pain in your subconscious mind. So every time when writing is mentioned, the feeling of pain is triggered automatically. Sure enough, your writing endeavour is doomed before it even starts.
6. You haven’t developed writer’s maps.
When you arrive in a new city, it can be difficult to know where to go without a map. The same is true for writing. For those who find easy to write an article consistently, they have a variety of outline structures at their disposal. Those outline structures resemble maps with signposts which are reference points for different ideas. Of course developing those mental maps is not an easy task, but once they are established, writing articles or even books becomes much easier because you don’t have to waste a lot of time and energy throwing ideas at the wall just to see what stick.
7. Writing is not a habit yet.
When a task becomes a habit, it is much easier to perform. Such as brushing your teeth in the morning and at night, you just do it without the need for any teeth-gritting willpower. To turn something into a habit, it needs to be repeatedly performed over a period of time. If you haven’t written anything rather than text messages for a while, chances are that writing is not a habit for you. When it is not a habit, the entire process of filling your writing space with words following the flow of ideas often feels unnatural. Therefore you need a lot more deliberation to get the job done.
This list is not exhaustive, but it gives you something to think about. Reflect on your own experience and see which reasons mentioned above explain the challenge you are facing in producing content. If you like this article, share it.