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What’s Your Hardest Part?


We all have our battles – with ourselves. Writers? Ours can be just gruesome.

I love talking to new clients. I love writing proposals. I love getting the call that says, ‘We want to hire YOU!’ I love the research. I love the concepting. I love the writing. I love the feedback. I love the revisions. I love the getting paid.

I don’t love, or even tolerate very well for that matter, the moment before I begin to write.

Do you know the moment I’m talking about?

Everything is there, spread out before me on my desktop like a deli spread on game day. I know it’s all there – I can see the bread, the meat, the mustard – but I have yet to dig in and see what I really have to work with. Is it rye or sourdough, turkey or corned beef, dijon or honey? And how will they all fit together?

I know what I have to do. I have to just grab my plate, tie the napkin around my neck and start. But I’m paralyzed – about one step away from the table.


I’m afraid. Insanity in the form of ridiculous thoughts runs amok in my brain: did I ask the right questions? do I have enough information? can I write? what if they don’t like it? Oy vey. Somebody smack me.

It never fails though, something rattles my brain (and proverbial balls) and I jump in there, get my hands dirty and start writing.

And, then, of course…

I wonder what in the world was wrong with me – this is easy, it’s cake! I breathe writing like it’s air (or however that saying goes). I can do this! This, after all, is what I DO!

So, that’s it: the moment before I jump in, that’s my hardest part. In the words of Little June in Gypsy: “What’s yours?”

Image by Brian Auer

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • What a great post, Julie! The “part” you’ve described as your hardest is actually my favorite. I love those very first spurts of creativity when I start pecking through everything to find *the* angle or idea that’s going to make a piece of writing fabulous. For me, that’s the easy part.

    My hardest part is when I’m done. I read a piece over and over and wonder whether or not the client’s going to like it or if it sucks and I just think it’s really good….

    Do you think writers tend to question themselves because so much of a person’s *self* goes into each piece? I don’t mean just words, but our ideas, our experiences, our knowledge, when we finish a piece of writing it almost feels personal.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Ah – I actually love the first spurts of creativity as well (see ‘I love the concepting’ above) – it’s the moment before I even do that – before I look at anything, before I begin – that’s what gets me!

  • LoneWolf says:

    Come on, just write the comment… come on … 8=)

    I find that this happens to me when I’m looking at software development as well as writing projects.

    I think that part of it is getting the mind focused in on things and part of it is the realization that I will need to stay on this track for a period of time to get it all out. I find it frustrating when I do get into the zone and get interrupted.

    Then there is always that fear component. I’m sure you all know what I mean by that…

  • Sarah Bray says:

    The hardest part is the moment after I press “send” when I’m emailing a client their initial concept. It’s sent! Gah!

    Wait. There’s another one moment much worse than that. It happens if they haven’t responded three days later. Then I have to write and say “did you get this?” And then they say no. And then I have to do it again. THAT moment after I push “send” is the worst. But then I call them to make *sure*, and then they see it and they love me, and I am validated again.

    How many times do we artists have to be validated anyway? A zillion?

  • Alexa says:

    I actually have two parts that I “hate” about writing. The first is exactly as you describe – right at the outset when you have to take all of what is before you and condense it into something that works for the audience you’re writing for. It is not uncommon for me to write for a while, then toss it out and start over because I don’t think it is going where it needs to go and my mind is too contaminated with what I’ve done in the piece to that point to be able to salvage or re-orient it.

    The second is, as Jaime described, the continuous review after I’m done. Left to my own devices, without any sort of deadline, I’ll review it, review it again, and review it some more. Every time I find little nitpicky things to change. If I review it ten times, I’ll make at least one change each time. I have to convince myself that, at some point, the material is just not going to get any better and push it to its destination. And even then, I’ll often continue to second guess what I wrote, wondering if I could’ve conveyed an idea or thought differently. That’s quite painful and I haven’t found a way around it, even with people telling me I write exceptionally well.

    I read your blog all the time and while I don’t say much, I want you to know that I’ve gained some valuable insight into my own writing skills and techniques from reading your words. <3

  • Julie: The hardest part for me is just before I hit “post”. Did I make a spelling error or grammatical gaffe that will make me look uneducated or worse, stupid? I know what I meant to say, but did I say it in a way that everyone who reads it will understand what I meant to say? Will anyone comment? On and on and on. Writing it is the easy part for me. Sending it out to the universe is the pebble in my shoe.

  • Gil Gonzalez says:

    Loved your post, Julie. For me, the hardest back is cutting back to make it fit. For my personal blogs, I try to stick to a self-imposed, 500 word limit. If I go over, it’s no big deal. However, if I am writing for a newsletter, etc., it’s so hard to throw that first draft out there and then start trimming back. “How can I possibly convey the message I want to in under 500 words?” Leaving words, phrases and sometimes entire concepts on the proverbial cutting room floor is the hardest part for me.

  • Sandra Foyt says:

    Yeah, getting started is a drag, but the part I hate is just after I’ve started writing when there are so many paths I could follow, and I’m struggling to lasso disparate ideas.

    Great post! Makes me think of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talk on creativity and writing.

  • Interesting post. The hardest part for me is when the next 500-1000 words I have to write are “transition”. I need to get from point A to point B and it’s not going to be as thrilling as the rest of the book (I write thrillers). I know what I’m going to write, it’s easy, but I just get bored with it.

    Usually what I do is try to introduce something interesting into the scene – something not necessary, but different. A character foible or some such thing. It probably improves the book and definitely improves my writing of it

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