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Challenges of the writing life and how I overcome them

Committing to writing a book is no small task. Many writers begin manuscripts but unfortunately do not finish the novel or work of non-fiction. From my experience, the biggest challenge is not honoring and embracing my organic writing process. Often, we don’t recognize our unique process of creating. I come up against this time and time again. Not every writer’s process is the same. Some writers are sprinters and others are long distance runners.

I once had a writing instructor who said that writing four pages every day should be the goal. I tried this and it worked for me up to a point. When it came to my second novel, I wrote four pages a day five days a week. I found that I needed a few days off to recharge and evaluate how the novel was progressing. Writing four pages daily takes me about four hours, but it may take some writers three hours or six. Some authors take frequent breaks, others work straight through. After an hour of writing, I often take a break.

Some writers write five hours daily regardless of how many pages they’ve written. It is advisable to set a goal of time, pages, or words. Set a goal that is concrete. If you wait for inspiration to strike, the waiting will turn into procrastination and you will not be productive. You need to set parameters when you write so you are guaranteed something on paper. Writing when you feel inspired is impractical and will leave you frustrated.

What ever shows up for you regarding your process embrace it, but it needs to be contained in a structure. That structure is setting a goal and meeting it whenever you sit down to write. A writer’s process should be the inspiration to creating. As writers we need to fall in love with our practice, whatever that is. If you are feeling distracted recognize the distraction and continue with your writing. If you push the distraction away and tell yourself, it is a block to your creative practice then it will come back stronger and over-take you. So, something that appears to be a negative can be a positive to your practice.

If you have no alternative than write is a space that is active and noisy then it needs to be part of your process and should not interfere with your goals. If you struggle with the fact that you don’t have a private quiet space and miss the opportunity to meet your goals, then you will interrupt your practice and feel defeated. Sometimes we have setbacks in terms of character or dialogue development and that is also part of our process.

As writers, we must accept that we will have moments when clarity eludes us. At these times, we need to dig deep and realize this is also part of our practice and it is there to teach us something. Maybe the confusion is there so we’ll reassess our book’s direction, or we need to slow down or clarify a character’s motivation. Whenever we sit down to write, whatever comes up is part of our practice and we need to recognize it and see how it can support our creative process.

So, as writers, the most constant challenge is internal and facing our critical mind. The way out is by befriending our unique writing process. When we do this the blockages to our creativity melt away and clarity will spread over our manuscript light sunlight after a storm.


Carmela Cattuti started her writing career as a journalist for the Somerville News in Boston, MA. After she finished her graduate work in English Literature from Boston College she began to write creatively and taught a journal writing course at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education As fate would have it, she felt compelled to write her great aunt's story. “Between the Cracks” has gone through several incarnations and will now become a trilogy. Her second novel, The Ascent has just been published.To connect with Carmela email her Visit her website at

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