I hate writing, I love having written.

Dorothy Parker

Let’s face it. Writing can be a slog. Being an author doesn’t always make you feel like you’re crafting fantastic worlds out of the air. Sometimes writing sucks.

If you’ve ever felt the pain of an empty page, or found yourself stuck in a knotted plot that won’t unravel into the story you’re looking for, you know the pain. Maybe it comes in the form of fear, where you begin to question whether or not this whole writing thing is for you. Maybe it’s anger, and you’ve got a wastebasket beside your desk full of hastily half-scrawled and crumpled pages. Or maybe you’re just tired.

Whatever you do, don’t give up! Every writer struggles at some point. Some just make it less visible than others.

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Here are four quick tips to help you get through the slog and back into a positive space where you can unleash your story on the world.

Seek out externally-imposed deadlines

If you’re struggling to find motivation on your own, let somebody else provide a boost.

The internet is a big place, full of people who’d love nothing more than to see one of your works! Here are some examples:

If those feel intimidating, that’s okay too! Why not let a friend of family member know that you’ll have a piece of writing available for them to read in a week from today? Use somebody you trust and give them a date and time when you’ll have something for them. Knowing that somebody you care about is waiting will give you a gentle nudge away from Netflix and into your writing.

Have others critique your work

Finding somebody to read your work is one thing. Finding someone to give you constructive criticism is another.

To grow as writers, we need feedback. If you don’t mind hearing some notes that include a mix of enthusiasm and gentle recommendations, then consider finding somebody to critique your work.

Constructive criticism is a great resource for many reasons, not the least of which is the to-do list that comes with feedback. A critique will include a list of potential changes, improvements, and general reactions. This feedback will help you find areas to grow as a writer.

If you agree with the feedback, you’ll have a new collection of tasks that will make your writing stronger. I like to think of this as gaining experience and leveling up.

You might disagree with the feedback, and that’s completely fine! The act of even considering another point of view about your work should lead you to feel more confident about your choices, and that’s the goal!

Learn to love the process

Writing is an art form, and it can feel rough. However, how many people can say that they invented a world?

Try focusing on the process. Even better, try to enjoy the process for what it is, the invention of something that didn’t exist before.

You’re creating something new. You’ve got gears rotating in your head to power an assembly line of ideas. Your story ideas only exist because you’re generating them, and for a time, the only place in the entire universe where they exist is with you.

Write for yourself

Lucky you–you’ve got the world’s best view inside your own head! You’ve got an imagination fueled by the stories you’ve enjoyed. You know what you like to read, what you enjoy watching, and the music you appreciate most.

Think about the story you’re working on. Does it fall in line with the things you like? Feel free to be honest! Does it really?

If it does, that’s great! Forget about everybody else for a moment, and think about the story you’d want to read based in your world. What twists and turns do you tend to enjoy the most when you’re in the middle of somebody else’s story? Try adding some of that magic to your own work, and write for you.

If your story isn’t hitting the mark, consider writing something different that does hit the mark. You don’t have to abandon your other work, of course, but a quick jaunt into the story world of your dreams can be liberating.

Sure, there might be other readers down the road. We’d all love to know that legions of fans are appreciating our work. However, for now, narrow your audience to the most important reader, and write only for you.