Barriers to developing a writing practice

Barriers to developing a writing practice Image

85% of writers want to write more frequently. So why don’t they? I was intrigued to find out what the barriers are and why there is a gap between people’s ideal writing practice and the reality.

Earlier this year I asked writers about their writing practice. The findings are in some cases obvious – of course writers want to spend more time writing – but still fascinating.

The goal: to write every day

The majority of the writers who responded to the survey already write regularly, with 68% writing at least once a week. A dedicated 17% write every day! Writing every day is definitely the ideal and the goal people aim for – 90% of those who want to write more frequently said they wanted to write full time or every day.

Having ideas is the easy bit

Respondents agreed that having an idea for a writing project was easy with 76% agreement. This was closely followed by finding inspiration. The main difficulty for over 60% of respondents was developing a regular writing practice. Other things writers find hard are finishing a project, keeping going, and remaining positive. So why is it such a struggle once we get started?

“My brain is too busy with work – crowds out creativity”

The barriers

Lack of time was given as the main barrier. As one respondent said, “Life gets in the way! Family, friends, work, housework…” Work, or as one person called it, “the bastard day job” not only takes up most of our time, but saps our creative energy: “Returning home after sitting at a keyboard all day it’s difficult to find the energy to write what I want.” We have chores that eat into our time and examples given included tax returns, servicing the car, running a household, and looking after children.

“I wish I had a PA so I didn’t have to do any admin!”

The next barrier was lack of discipline; though only a few examples were given with one writer saying “faffing about on the internet” another said: “I can procrastinate for England”. No-one specifically referred to writers’ block, though lack of faith is a real problem for many: “Fear. Of failure and success.”

Inspirational deadlines

blue sky inspiration

I  asked about sources of inspiration and 75% of writers agreed that having a deadline was inspiring. So rather than inspiration being about limitless blue skies, it appears we need a specific goal and deadline to get us started.

My next post will explore other sources of inspiration, what writers use to get them started and keep going, and how they measure success.


Bec Evans About the author: Co-creator of Prolifiko, Bec has spent a lifetime reading, writing and working with writers. From her first job in a bookshop, to a career in publishing, and several years managing a writers’ centre, she’s obsessed with working out what helps writers write.