7 Reasons Why Most People Find Writing Hard to Do

Dreamstime xs 22136114As a professional freelance writer and former teacher of writing, I’m very familiar with how challenging writing can be. Most people don’t look forward to writing beyond Twitter or Facebook posts. Writing is a task and a job that many people put off doing until the last minute, or they hire a freelancer like myself to do it. So why is writing so hard? The following is my take on why–in no particular order.

1. Honestly, I think most teachers don’t know how to teach the nuts and bolts of writing. Most often, more time is spent in the classroom teaching grammar and spelling rules, rather than helping students build their writing fluency.

2. As with any other skill (and art), writing takes practice. You need to write every day to build your writing fluency. Daily practice might include keeping a journal or blog. If you haven’t developed a habit for writing, I highly suggest using 750words.com to do intense daily free writing (with little regard for proper grammar and spelling) for at least a few months. The biggest hurdle to writing is getting over the hump of not doing it. So write everyday to build fluency. Write a lot, and get in the habit of reading everyday.

3. Because many teachers don’t write for publication (and many stop writing after graduating from college), they have very little understanding of the writing process. Too often writing assignments become a form of punishment, rather than opportunities for students to build their skills and explore their thoughts. Teachers should regularly write the essays and papers they assign, especially the first time they assign a particular type or topic of writing. By doing an assignment themselves, teachers can show their own writing process and see the types of challenges their students are facing.

Also, if writing must be graded, students should be given several opportunities to revise their work for a better grade. A major writing assignment should not be given over the weekend for students to complete. Good and bad models of writing should constantly be examined, especially when students are working on a major writing assignment or projects.

4. To be a good writer, you also need to be an avid reader. Reading well written books, blog posts and articles, and paying attention to how writing is done can have a direct impact on your own writing skills. Scholastic magazine, for example, is a good resource of writing written specifically for young people.

5. Often times, writing and reading assignments are a turn off to students, because they are based on topics chosen by teachers. Some of the best topics to write about for young people are about controversial issues (e.g., abortion, the 2nd amendment,  discrimination in schools and criminal justice system, religion and atheism, racial profiling, drug laws, sexism.) Everyone has an opinion about popular controversial issues, and there always good models of articles and essays that address controversial issues, including good blog posts, newspaper and magazine articles, and letters to the editor.

6. Most people don’t realize that writing is a process —of hard-to-get-started introductions, messy drafts, and tedious revisions. Students need to be shown that most writing is not done in a single draft, nor should teachers expect it to be.

Thankfully, writing software makes the writing process a little easier. If you ever had to write a paper or an article using an electric typewriter, you will understand what I mean. Teachers need to help students understand the writing process based on how real writing is done. Some writing such as the WordPress editor actually keep track of revisions. Here’s an example of revisions from the writing of this article:

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Again, don’t assign writing to be completed over the weekend or even in a week. Developing writers need opportunities to read and evaluate good and bad models of writing. They need opportunities  to do peer responses to each other’s writing, and they always need opportunities to revise their work based on a well-written evaluation rubrics. Before students’ writing projects are graded, they should be very clear about the expectations of the assignment, and they should be allowed opportunities to meet those expectations to the best of their ability.

7. Writing is also a form of discovery. Writing makes you realize what you really know and don’t know. If you lack an understanding of a subject, it is difficult to write about it. Again, this is another area where many writing teachers fail their students. They don’t know how to help students use writing as a form of discovery. In most classrooms writing is mainly assignment for a grade, not a tool for discovery and real form of communication.

8. Good writing also takes a lot of time, which many people don’t have. Unless you’re very familiar with the subject you’re writing about, you may have difficulty completing an essay, research paper, or fictional story, etc.

Share Your Thoughts

So what do you find difficult about writing, and how do you deal with those difficulties?

23 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why Most People Find Writing Hard to Do

  1. Tanisha says:

    Bakari, that’s a good post. Like any other art or skill, writing also has to be practiced. You have to know the basics and work at it every day. But I guess, not everyone can take time out to write as there are other things on your agenda too. So, people should decide whether writing is beneficial for them or not.

    1. Madalyn says:

      Yes, I think that reading contributes with many of the writing ; techniques. With, the view of many words you get used to the sentence structure. Don’t give up my writers , I
      myself is terrible at , mathematics !! 😦

  2. Tanisha says:

    Bakari, nice post here. One has to work really hard at their writing to succeed. Some people think that writing is just about penning down what comes to you but its more than that. You have to sharpen your concentration and get the flow going if you want your writing to become stronger.

  3. Lorrie says:

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  6. David Allen Wizardgold says:

    Excellent article Bakari. So long as you have plenty of ideas then writing isn’t too much of a problem. The harder part for novel writing is the re-writing and editing and I think I can nail that with a bit of practice.

    If someone really is struggling with getting some words out then are plenty of strategies that have been invented to help with that.

    Yes teachers have been known to use writing as a punishment. I can remember being in detention numerous times and having to write something. I used to enjoy writing even then and go wild with fantastic stories and even more so if the title given was as boring as hell.

    Just seen a tweet about an app called Write About writeaboutapp.com for the iPad and for use in a school looks like fun.

  7. Mohammad says:

    I have trouble writing at work. The thoughts are in my head but dont know how to put it on paper. I read my co workers work its amazing. I am lacking vocabulary and sentence flow. How can i improve in this situation?

  8. Emily says:

    Enjoyed the article. My difficulties with writing is due to my fear of plagiarizing. I’m working on papers for college and I don’t want to plagiarize. This fear cripples me to the point that I avoid writing the paper as long as possible. This stems from being poorly educated in APA and MLA styles. I have absolutely no clue how to do them and it is a painstaking task to figure it out! I suppose practice makes perfect, but I wish it came a little easier.

  9. kirstenpatrick says:

    Thanks for this post (which came up at the top of the list of results of a Google search with the question “Why is writing so hard?”….proving that sometimes when you ask Google you get a great answer). I particularly liked what you said about teachers not teaching writing as a means to learning and discovery. I know that it can be great for learning. Because every time I write a blog post or an editorial or an activity in my course I learn something, either about my own experience or about myself or something that I knew nothing about. and that is valuable. Thanks for the referral to 750words.com Just what I needed right now.

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