The Hardest Skill for Amateur Writers to Learn

The Hardest Skill for Amateur Writers to Learn

Writing any kind of creative story is more often a test of endurance than skill. Sure, skill is what sets apart the writing greats from many other authors; but routine is what makes a professional.

Setting a writing routine and returning to it when life interrupts you is the single hardest things for an amateur writer to learn.

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Starting the Routine

This is the easy part.

You get inspired, you have a great idea for a story and you want to start planning the plot and meeting the characters and getting words on the page. You make time for writing because it’s something that now occupies your mind and drives you.

Typically, starting a writing routine follows inspiration. That inspiration may come from an idea for a story, but there are ways to ignite that spark on demand.

One of my go-to methods of getting inspired to write is to explore material on the craft of writing. Learning about other authors writing routines, methods of character development, or how they plot novels is a surefire way to get me interested in implementing those methods in my own writing.

Check out some great writing resources here!

The easiest content of this style to find (for me, at least) is podcasts. There is so much content out there about writing. Over time, these podcasts may inspire you to apply different methods to your writing. It’s also very possible that it eventually becomes background noise and the podcasts begin to lose effectiveness in inspiring you.

For a more reliable method of inspiring writing, I find that books on the craft get me more invested in the content. The father of writing books, Stephen King’s On Writing always inspires me to enter this routine of writing. Reading about someone speaking so accurately on the lifestyle of an author, the skills of the craft, and methods of plottings vs pantsing will always send me into a couple weeks of reliable writing.

The Interruption

Oh no. It’s happened. You were in Week 3 of your writing routine. You’ve gotten tens of thousands of words down and you’re really making progress on your novel. You feel good about the characters, you have an interesting plot, and you’ve written scenes that have had you laughing at the keyboard like a maniac.


And then, life happens. Wait, not life. Life. With a capital L.

It could be anything. A visit from family members. A busy week at work. A cold that knocks you off your feet for a week. Even a show that you get so invested in that you binge it from start to finish.

Whatever it is, your routine is now…



When you were previously hitting a thousand words a day easily, sometimes even tapping out three thousand words in a fit of inspiration, it suddenly hits you that you haven’t written in ten days.

You know that you should be writing, but getting yourself in front of the keyboard is harder to do now. Sometimes you think about writing and you almost commit to opening up your story, but you end up doing something else. Other times, you get in front of that computer but you only get a couple words in before you’re on your phone and scrolling through instagram.

That beautiful, structured, results-driven routine is now smashed like a rock through a windshield.

Getting Back On Track

This is the hard part.

That spark of inspiration is gone and your focus is now moved on to other things.

This is the skill that separates amateur writers from professional writers.

There are hundreds of famous quotes by writers about getting content onto the page. Maybe you’ll notice a similar theme:

  1. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” - Stephen King
  2. “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” - Jack London
  3. “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” - Jodi Picoult

Notice anything important here?

Magnifying Glass

The most important skill that a professional writer has is that they write without requiring a spark of inspiration. They write no matter what.

It’s a learned skill, to be sure. Writing is hard. Writing a novel is hard for a long time. It’s test of willpower, endurance, and grit. Even with all of those qualities, it doesn’t mean that a book is going to be a success. Or, honestly, even good. But, a story can’t be written if you never start.

So, even if you aren’t inspired. Even if your routine has been completely wrecked. Even if you haven’t touched your story in months (or even years!), start your routine again. Get in front of that computer and start day one of that new routine. Take the first step of that marathon.

Each step leads to another. Before you know it, you have your first novel.