7 Common Obstacles to Writing

What are some of the obstacles that writers face? By talking to my students and other writers and by observing my own writing activities, I came up with the following list:

  • writer’s block
  • writing anxiety
  • procrastination
  • lack of confidence
  • lack of productivity
  • lack of motivation
  • perfectionism

In today’s blog, I provide online resources that discuss these writing problems and offer solutions, tips, and suggestions in order to help writers overcome these obstacles.

Writer’s Block

Sean M. Conrey & Allen Brizee. Symptoms and Cures for Writer’s Block. Purdue OWL.

This resource from the Purdue Online Writing Lab describes several symptoms of writer’s block and provides solutions to cure these symptoms.

Writing Anxiety

Writing Anxiety. The Writing Center, UNC-Chapel Hill.

This handout discusses a common writing obstacle: writing anxiety, that is, feeling pessimistic or apprehensive about writing. The article first describes several situations in which these feelings may arise. The article then provides a number of suggestions to overcome writing anxiety. They include getting support, identifying your writing strengths, understanding that writing is a complex process, thinking of yourself as an apprentice, trying new tactics when stuck, and celebrating your writing accomplishments and successes.


Paul J. Silvia. On Writing Tomorrow What You Should Have Written Last Year. APA Style Blog.

Paul Silvia gives three suggestions on how to overcome a common problem in writing (and, arguably, in many other life endeavors)—procrastination. They include working with a group of other writers, developing a habit, and establishing rewards for your writing accomplishments. In his article, Paul describes these strategies in more detail.

Lack of Confidence

Anne Lyken-Garner. How to Build Confidence in Your Writing Ability. Writers in Charge Blog.

Anne Lyken-Garner offers a few simple but helpful suggestions on how to build confidence in your writing abilities.

Lack of Productivity

Bamidele Onibalusi. 10 Productivity Tips for Writers. Writers in Charge Blog.

“Our body is capable of doing much more than it already does,” notes Bamidele, “if only we could learn to make effective use of it under the right circumstances.” Accordingly, the ten productivity tips for writers he offers may help your students create such right circumstances and be more productive in their writing activities.

 Lack of Motivation

Carol Tice. How to Boost Your Sagging Motivation for Writing. How to Make a Living Writing Blog.

Although this article is geared toward freelance writers, some of the tips on how to boost writing motivation can be helpful to your students as well.


Ruthanne Reid. How to Defeat Your Perfectionism in Writing. The Write Practice Blog.

In this article, the author Ruthanne Reid discusses perfectionism not only as an obstacle for writing, but also as a dangerous writer’s quality.

About Elena Shvidko

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko is an assistant professor at Utah State University. She received her doctorate in second language studies from Purdue University and her master’s degree in TESOL from Brigham Young University. Her work appears in TESOL Journal, System, Journal on Response to Writing, TESOL interest section newsletters, and TESOL's New Ways series. Her research interests include second language writing, multimodal interaction, interpersonal aspects of language teaching, and teacher professional development.
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