I've been struggling these past few months. Struggling to put words on paper. Is that you, too? Funny thing is, I have no problems with posts on Facebook. They flow like water. So, what's the deal? What I thought was writer's block is probably better named as procrastination. I know I need to write, but what do I do instead?
- The laundry (I have nothing to wear. . .)
- Dishes (really?)
- Bake (it's an escape)
- Mend clothes (I hate looking at the growing pile)
- Purchase mentor texts on Amazon
- Continue one of my writer's courses
- Submit a manuscript.
I tell myself that these things really do need to get done. And, c'mon, the last three apply to writing. Am I not correct?
Correct, but wrong. Huh?
The point is, I'm NOT WRITING.
I sure do. Challenges ALWAYS get me going. I wouldn't have much written if I didn't accept the challenges:
And the list could go on. Some months, I go from one challenge to another. My first drafts are nothing to write home about, but hey, I have something on paper to edit when the time comes. But, as I push ahead, I have found a few other resources to entice and inspire me. Even when I am not writing. Even when it's true writer's block, and not procrastination. Maybe these will help you, too:
A Writer's Guide to Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld (good help with focus for the writing life)
Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein (she's given me super editing and revising hints when I’m stuck with character and plot)
Children's Book-A-Day Almanac by Anita Silvey (helpful for story ideas)
The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron (great for motivation)
Award-winning author Candace Fleming (I consider her a friend) has advice for getting 'unstuck':
- Write one to three pages of anything on your mind. It could be thoughts on your manuscript, or just fleshing out the events of the day. Julia Cameron calls them "morning pages" because they are written first thing in the morning to get you writing.
- Any time you get stuck as you are writing a story, whether it's with a name, location, descriptive word, etc, just fill the space with a "—", and decide what to use later. Then your writing will not come to a halt, as it has for me many times!
Here’s help from Writer’s Digest: A 12 Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises
The Character Traits Thesaurus is a helpful tool when you are stuck with ideas. Check it out HERE.
Don’t know how to begin a story? This blogpost gives you some ideas.
Ever thought of writing a Fractured Fairytale? Tara Lazar shows you how. Her how-to video is a riot!
THE ANTI-PROCRASTINATION PLAN
Now that I'm an empty nester, I find I have more time to write, but less self-control. As I've mentioned above, I find tons of things to do instead of writing. So, I schedule myself. I carve out a piece of the day that is totally free, and I concentrate on writing or revising. I also take time to read books on writing, look for agents or publishers to submit to, or take a class online. At one point, I thought of choosing one writing 'task' each day. For instance, Monday would be my submission day, Tuesday, revision day, Wednesday . . .well, you get my meaning. But so far, that hasn't worked.
A good app that reminds me of my tasks for the day/week/month is Any.do. They have updated it, and I highly recommend it for reminding yourself of the contest or pitchfest you are going to take part in, or any other writerly tasks you need to accomplish. Make sure you include the name and location of the event as well, so you can find the details when you need them. The app is available for laptops, iPhones and iPads.
Julie Cameron also suggested 'Walks' and 'Artist's Dates' with yourself. Go for a walk in the neighborhood. Or choose a safe forest preserve or park on your way to the shopping mall. And take yourself out on a date to a museum, unexplored neighborhood, or bookshop that is new to you. You'd be amazed at how refreshed and more creative you feel!
SOMETIMES ALL YOU NEED IS A PROMPT: NO EXCUSE FOR WRITER’S BLOCK
If all of the above fails, just sit yourself down in a quiet, distraction free place, open your notebook or computer program/app of your choice and WRITE!
- Your favorite childhood experience
- Your worst childhood experience
- A day in the life of your dog/cat or other pet
- Your life on a deserted island: what would you take?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?
- If you could make up any world, what would it be like?
- Pick a color and write about what it means to you. What word pictures does it bring to mind?
- If you have a list of titles/ideas for a picture/chapter book, pick one and just start writing.
- Get your thinking cap on and write a pitch or jacket flap text for a WIP (that’s a Work In Progress). It's amazing how that assignment will clarify the plot and characters of your story.
Well, I hope I have given you some ideas to jump start your writing and get the creative juices flowing. So. . .WRITE ON!!
What excuses do you use for procrastinating?? Share your comments below. . . I’d love to hear from you!
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.