Stop Doing These 5 Things and Start Writing
Got Writer’s Block? Welcome to the real world! It happens to every writer, even best-selling authors. There are days when words don’t come, and you sit there staring at your computer screen. But at other times, you can’t type fast enough to get your thoughts out! It’s a mystery that can be frustrating and puzzling, especially when writer’s block can bring your writing to a screeching halt. Several roadblocks typically halt any writing activity but knowing what to do can help you avoid them.
#1 Just Write
When (not IF) Writer’s Block happens, give yourself a break. Instead of toiling away on the next Great American Novel, work on your grocery list, a list of tasks, your journal, a poem. Anything. Eventually, you will get an idea or inspiration to get you back on track with your memoir, novel, true-life crime story, or something else. Here’s another tip: If you’re stuck writing the beginning of an article or paper, try working on the conclusion first and working backward.
#2 Stop Editing
One mistake most writers (I’m raising my hand) make or have made is Editing While Writing. Big mistake! Why? Because stopping to correct grammar, syntax, spelling, and moving paragraphs around halts the creative juices and interrupts the writing process. I coach writers to JUST WRITE. Forget grammar and all the other stuff. Get your thoughts on paper. Do a “brain dump.” When you are finished, you can take the next step to fix everything.
#3 Don't Get Hung-up
Another common mistake a writer (Especially new book authors) make is to get Hung Up on The Minutia. This goes hand in hand with editing while writing, but with a subtle difference. I once worked with a newbie on her book, which she was having a tough time beginning. I found out she was hung up on chapter titles, the book cover design, the book title, and other small issues. These details were imposing their own version of Writer’s Block. My advice to her was to forget about all of this design stuff, which is step 245, and you are on step one! Even the title often comes to you as you write. The easiest way to remember this is to deploy Dave’s two writing rules: Rule # 1: Write. Rule # 2: Rinse and repeat.
#4 Don't Procrastinate
Procrastination is another killer. “I just don’t have time to write,” you say. Well, let’s look at that. If you can set aside just 15 minutes a day (early in the morning, if you’re like me), or the last thing at night, you would rack up nearly two hours of writing per week. That is eight hours a month and almost 100 hours a year. Imagine what you could accomplish in 100 hours!
#5 Don't Get Distracted
Arm in arm with procrastination is distraction (Squirrel!) You have a family wanting and needing your attention. Friends are tugging at you for a chunk of your schedule. And, of course, you have to work! If you’re self-employed and work from home (as I do), distractions are everywhere! Oops, the trash needs to go out. Got to empty the dishwasher. There’s a great movie on Netflix. The client wants that proposal today? It’s time for lunch. Where did the morning go? Distractions are everywhere. Shut them out. Grab your computer and go somewhere else (like Starbucks). Eliminate those in-home distractions.
So how did you do with the five roadblocks? I’ve experienced all five, but you can overcome them! Just keep working at it, and I’ll look forward to reading YOUR great American novel. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the dog has to go out, and I have to sweep the floor. Squirrel!