Nancy’s Notes: Writing Obstacles
Obstacles that can bring your writing to a standstill
Have you ever had your writing come to a grinding halt and wondered why? Or maybe you know why but don’t know how to change it? Is the stress from not writing getting to you?
I find that changing perspective is often necessary to get past these blocks. It is all too easy to get inundated with the idea you must be productive all the time. In my opinion, a writer needs time to mentally process what they are writing before and during its creation.
So I asked several of my group friends over at Writer’s Creative Circle to give me their ideas of what causes a breakdown in their writing process. Here are some of the answers:
- TOO MANY PROJECTS. Almost daily I see someone in my many writing groups ask how do you deal with the issue of too many ideas and not enough time. Ideas, if you are so lucky, will always occur. If you start too many projects then your attention gets split into so many directions it can’t possibly function. Use a notebook, your phone, your computer, to keep track of ideas for future use but stay on the project you currently have going. Some authors can maintain two or three concurrent projects but I wouldn’t suggest any more. If you want to be known as an author then you have to finish a project and see it through.
DOUBT: We all suffer from it. Well, unless you have an overly abundant ego. Doubt about whether the story is good enough, whether the writing is good enough, whether you are good enough. Writers, for the most part, are sensitive creatures who take in the world around them and create a story for others. Sure, we all have doubt, but to let it stop you from doing the thing you love only hurts you. Some of us might never be traditionally published but you will know in your heart if you gave up too soon.
- THE INTERNET: I am combining two responses here and it is one of the areas of which I am most guilty. We, as writers, know we need the internet to research, market, network, and socialize but it is just too easy to get overextended or simply lose time. Before you are aware, you’ve spent hours with little to show for it. Getting over this hurdle is a matter of self-discipline and organization. Do not commit to more than you can handle. Set aside a time for marketing, group interaction, and education but remember the ultimate goal is to be a writer.
- NOT KNOWING WHICH WAY TO GO: You have a story. You pick a direction, a plan. Then you reach the fork in the road…or many forks. Which one do you go to? This form of paralysis comes from indecision. So what is the worst that can happen if you go down one path and find it just isn’t appealing? You go back and try another. If you really can’t decide then number the different ideas and draw a number. Flip a coin. Matter of fact, I think that would be a really interesting idea for a book. Flip a coin at each plot point and let the story come together as it falls.
- OTHERS TELLING YOU HOW TO WRITE YOUR STORY: Even your editor shouldn’t tell you how to write your story. They can make suggestions but the story is yours. My favorite phrases in response to others is “I’ll take that under advisement” or That’s interesting, I’ll see how it plays out. Ultimately, you just nod and take what you can use and ignore the rest.
- EXHAUSTION/LIFE: I will be the first to admit I don’t know how parents raise children without losing their minds, much less writing. And those of you who work, keep house, go to school, have my complete respect. Most of you run in a state of constant exhaustion. I remember a professor drawing a triangle and putting SCHOOL on one side, WORK on another, and SOCIAL LIFE on the third. Then he stated that in life you can do two at a time well but not three. You have to set your priorities and remember that there are times when the priorities shift. So today your child really, truly needs you…you know the difference…then the writing may have to wait. But you also need to let the others know around you that this is important and you would appreciate some respect and time to yourself. Too often as authors we think we should put ourselves and our work last. Please don’t. Respect yourself and your work.
So that’s it, folks. There are a hundred more obstacles to overcome that could halt your writing. Ultimately, it is a matter of perspective…yours. Is your writing important enough to you to find ways around the obstacles? I hope so.