What is your writing kryptonite? To a certain extent, all writers have to battle adversity.

Here’s a scenario: On your computer, a fresh Word document is open and waiting to be filled with flowing, witty words, but right now it’s hidden behind windows of Amazon and Facebook and CNN. Beside the laptop is a notepad and a pen, clicked into the ready position, though there is a magazine sitting on top and it doesn’t cross your mind to move it.

You’re distracted now.

Sure, upon booting up, you went right for Word, as if determined to start the day strong. But that was over an hour ago now. Your two hours of writing have dwindled to thirty sporadic, anxious minutes that come to an end just as you have finally hit your stride. So you close the computer and stand up, frustrated, again, at a morning lost — no, not lost, but willingly relinquished to your worst habits.

Writing “kryptonite” is not about writer’s block. Not exactly, anyway. See, when people think about writer’s block they imagine a creative mind that just can’t get moving. Where did all the creative juices go? They need a jumpstart — some type of inspiration — to get back to their process.

I’m also not talking about finding time to write (though I wrote an article about battling that). That’s its own issue altogether. Life gets in the way of writing all the time. Most writers have day jobs — that’s just the reality of the situation.

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The idea of writing kryptonite is a little different. What gets in the way of you putting words on paper — of completing the writing process — when there is no shortage of ideas or inspiration, when you have the time to devote to the craft?

It seems there are the obvious procrastination culprits: the Internet, online shopping, social media. Maybe for you it’s perfectionism or prioritization. Some writers like to brainstorm thoroughly before beginning their drafts. That’s fine — actually a strong strategy — but does it go too far?

Here’s another scenario: You are at work and in your bag are two journals with broken spines, the pages no longer crisp but rather wave with distortion — too much use. They go everywhere with you and now they are full. At the bottom of your bag is a jumble of pens, each only used a couple times, each evidence of spontaneous inspiration. Back at home, there are numerous other notebooks, mostly blank though littered with random brainstorming. To an outsider, it’s an unorganized mess, but to you, the author — future author — it all makes sense. It’s been your project for years now, and it’s just a matter of time until you get to work writing. But you don’t want to begin until you know the whole picture, which seems to change constantly, even if only slightly. And your friends and family, all those witnessing your struggle, wonder when the day will come, if ever, that the story gets written.

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Undoubtedly there’s kryptonite at work. At what point does the plot and character mapping cease and the actual writing begin? Some writers have an innate inclination for shifting from one stage to the next. Others, though, may have difficulty, and that difficulty is limiting their ability to produce. (This works the opposite way, as well, for all those writers who pick up a pen without first thoroughly vetting their thoughts.)

To a certain extent, all writers have to battle these shortcomings. The most successful writers are those who can overcome obstacles. In your world, in your writing process, is there kryptonite that hinders your work? And, more importantly, what action do you take to eliminate it?

22 thoughts on “What is your writing kryptonite? To a certain extent, all writers have to battle adversity.

  1. For me it’s writing dialog. I can pound out an hour straight of scene setting, action sequences, or internal monologue, but as soon as the story needs a conversation I get hyper-critical of myself; the characters just never seem to speak naturally.

    1. That can certainly be tough. I’ve had similar challenges with my dialogue. I think it was Steinbeck who said “If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.”

Thoughts?