I'm thinking about revisiting an old project of mine that's always given me trouble, thinking that I can finish it this time since I've grown as a writer since I last tried to work on it. The thing that's really kept me from working on it the way I could have is that it touches on things (relationships between characters, character actions, etc) that make me really uncomfortable, to the point that it inhibits my ability to write. Are there any good methods to overcome or work around that feeling of discomfort?

Edit: It isn't really discomfort with taboo, explicit or painful actions or subjects, since I have no trouble coming up with these things and getting a sense for them in my head. It's more a feeling of discomfort with the extent to which these things need to be explored within the story- like doing that would make me complicit. Tips for dealing with any sort of discomfort would be great though.

  • Could you be more specific about what is causing you discomfort? Are the relationships taboo to your value system? or are they just painful to write about? Are the actions destructive to characters which you love? or are they just too explicit or vulger for you personally? There are lots of good methods for handling writing discomfort, but we need to know what kind. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 13:25
  • Are you getting paid to write this? Do you need to write specifically this? Did your publisher/editor request this, or maybe you need it for a mandatory project? If not - simply, don't. No reason to torture yourself with writing something you don't want to write. There are enough other subjects. Just drop it, walk away, and write something you enjoy.
    – SF.
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 13:36
  • @SF. It's a personal project. It's not that I'm torturing myself or not enjoying working on it- this part of it's a challenge that I need to figure out, otherwise I've declawed my story. If it wasn't necessary to the story, I wouldn't still be trying to work on it. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


You've already got a pretty good method: put it away again and see if you can write about it later. It took me 10 years or so to finally make a story of a particular upsetting event. It came out pretty well and was published last year.


My normal advise on this would be to gloss over the gory details, the degree depending on the target audience, but that appears to be a non-answer here so:

There is a story I wrote when I was in high school that I don't even like to think about because of the personal... stuff... around it. I get it out occasionally and work on it when I'm not feeling great anyway and because I can't feel that much worse it has a lot less impact than it does when I bump into it looking for something else on a good day. That is one possible if not too healthy approach to working on things that don't sit well with you.

I feel I should ask something here; is the effort you are putting in furthering the goal? If this is a piece for publication and you are as uncomfortable with writing it as you appear to be indicating for the reasons given are you going to be okay with publishing the work when you finally get the process finished? If the work is purely for the benefit of writing it for yourself because you feel you'll benefit from getting this matter on paper it appears to not be working that way for you. If you're benefiting from the piece then I wish you all the luck in the world getting through it but hard won experience tells me there are pieces you have to drop or you go crazy.

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