When people find out you’re a writer, they immediately switch from casual social interaction mode to quiz-the-writer mode. “How do you manage to focus on one thing long enough to write a book? I could never do that. I tried to write a book one twenty years ago, but gave up after one chapter.”
I find that’s the most common question (followed closely by, “I’ve written something; can you read it and give me your comments?”). For many non-writers, the sheer magnitude of effort required is the hardest part. But a least past of that is because they are standing at the foot of the mountain looking up at the daunting task ahead.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You write a novel the same way: one scene at a time.
I never met an actual writer that thought focus was the hardest part. You’re caught up in this great story idea you have and by the time you realize that it’s a lot of work, you’re halfway up the slope.
“Ugh. Editing. I love writing the first draft. But editing kills me. I keep finding myself back on social media, hoping for something amusing to break the tedium.”
That sounds more like a lot of the writers I know. Particularly those who blow their way through NaNoWriMo and end up with 50,000 words of which 20,000 may be useful. NOT that I’m poo-poo’ing learning to turn off your internal editor that NaNoWriMo teaches. But editing uses a different part of your brain than creating that edgy first draft. More disciplined. A lot of writers eschew discipline, equating it to less fun.
Not successful writers, of course. Editing has a beauty all its own. And the sooner one comes to grips with that, the more joyful the entire writing process will be.
“Marketing.” Well, yes. Of course. We all hate marketing. But that’s beyond the scope of this modest exploration into the writing process.
Although it’s not totally unrelated to my answer. The hardest part for me is (mild drum roll, please) writing the damned blurb. It’s supposed to be witty and engaging and capture the essence of the book in very few words so that anybody who reads it can’t wait to buy the book. But it’s not fiction, which means your characters can’t help. I know. I’ve asked.
“C’mon, we’ve been pals for this entire novel. Can’t you at least give me some thoughts for this freaking blurb?”
And yes, I know. Write it BEFORE you write the book. Yeah, yeah.