Top 10 (Normal) Struggles When Writing a Novel

When you're struggling to write, it's important to know you're not alone. Here are 10 common challenges all of us writers have to deal with from time to time.
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Writing a novel isn't the easiest thing to do. In fact, it takes hard work, dedication and the ability to occasionally ignore Facebook. But when you're struggling, it's important to know you're not alone. Here are 10 common challenges most of us writers have to deal with from time to time. How many of these sound familiar to you? [Click here to Tweet and share with other writers who can commiserate!]

1. You find yourself in the throes of a title dilemma

Like every author on the planet, I’ve spent endless hours mulling over title options for my work. One strives, of course, to be both memorable and honestly descriptive of the content. But then, by and large, a great title is an art form unto itself and a great title does not necessarily signify a great book.

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This guest post is by bestselling author Warren Adler. Adler is an acclaimed novelist of more than 40+ novels, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and consistently writes about his experience as an independent, self-published eBook author with his own press, Stonehouse Productions. Currently in development for Adler is the Hollywood sequel to The War of the Roses – The War of the Roses: The Children, along with other projects including Capitol Crimes, a television series based on Warren Adler’s Fiona Fitzgerald mystery novels. Learn more about Warren and his new film/TV developments on his website here. American Quartet, book 1 of his Fiona Fitzgerald series is now on Kindle promo for $1.99 through June 24th. Follow him here on Twitter and Facebook.

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2. You get 100 pages in a novel and suddenly decide you’re tossing it all

This may seem insane but I normally know whether or not I am on to something good only after being 100 pages into a story. I’m willing to bet some of you go much farther.

3. Your friends think you’ve become a recluse because you spend so much time at your writing desk.

I’m usually very regimented about my writing schedule and typically wake up at about 5 a.m. and start writing until 10 a.m. There have been times, however, where I’ve spent an entire day in my study working on a novel. Little do these friends know the kind of dynamic journey writers go on in their work.

[Did you know there are 7 reasons writing a novel makes you a badass? Read about them here.]

4. Choosing between creativity and money.

We don’t live by money alone. For those who aspire to the high art of literary writing, similarly to painters, composers, musicians, and others who prize, above all, discovering insight into the human condition, we will always put creation over the clink of coinage (or at least find a clever way to bridge the gap).

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5. Sometimes you spend a lot more time researching for your story than you do writing.

Actually, this isn't really a struggle but I'm leaving it in. When I was working on TARGET CHURCHILL, I spent months reading memoirs by Winston Churchill among other historical documents. It was all grist for the novelist’s mill. My research led to new characters and sub-plots. It was all so rich and intriguing that I could have spent a lifetime on the topic.

6. You have a lot of trouble trying to decide how your novel will end.

Honestly, if I ever knew the ending of a novel in advance, I wouldn't write it. The way in which I write is to let my characters come alive in my head and interact with each other, create conflict with each other, and work out their own destinies. I know this sounds out there but writers will know what I'm talking about.

[Understanding Book Contracts: Learn what’s negotiable and what’s not.]

7. There are times when you can't sleep at night because you're constantly thinking about what the next page in your story will be.

Sound familiar? There's nothing wrong with a smidgen of insomnia for the sake of your writing. It's a kind of rites of passage for the dedicated novelist. I am always writing a story in my head, keeping a log of ideas that pop up. I find that the best thing to do is keep a notepad or journal near you so you can jot thoughts down, otherwise you'll just end up more frustrated that you can't get it out of your head and onto paper.

8. Editors start changing and omitting parts of your story that you think should be left in.

One of the reasons I went independent was because I could not stand editors who took it upon themselves to essentially bulldoze entire sections of my work that I'd spent a lot of painstaking time on. I am always weary of this. I would rather make my own mistakes than have someone else make them for me.

9. You're CONSTANTLY rewriting!

Well, I firmly believe that the key to good writing is rewriting. When I write a novel I go back to it every single day and I try to produce at least 5 pages. I'll write 5 pages one day then go back the next day, start from the beginning and rewrite. I've managed 39+ novels so evidently this isn't such a bad process.

[How Long Should Novel Chapters Be? Click here to find out.]

10. You know all too well what it's like to get lost in your characters, in fact, sometimes your characters get out of line and start going off on tangents.

If this doesn't happen to you at some point then something must be wrong. Naturally, I become heavily invested in the characters I create, what they think, how they act, what they wish for, their passions, their emotional lives, their angst, their sexuality, their inner hungers and desires. They find internal expression in my third person style of writing and It becomes necessary to curb my imagination at times. You're probably wondering what those tangents sound like (that's for another blog).

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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

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