Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What is holding you back as a writer?

As I sit here at my laptop peering into the pale white screen. I can’t help but wonder “Where are the words?” and “Why do the words come when I am everywhere BUT next to paper or my computer? We’ve all had those times where we began an ambitious journey down the road of novel writing. We’ve also been to a precipice in our writing where we hit writer’s block. I don’t mean writer’s block where you just need to take a small break. I mean writer’s block to the point where you wonder if you should even go on and wonder if you will ever turn this “writing thing” into more than just a hobby.

Can you relate? Your friends and family tell you that maybe you should “get your head out of the clouds” and focus on or find a job when what you really want to do is write. “Maybe they’re right.” You say to yourself as you stare at that cup of coffee from a few hours ago that you allowed to get cold and wonder if you should warm it up a third time.

Religious or not..we all have our demons. I mean demons not in a spiritual sense but in a self-defeating sense. Our demons tell us that the naysayers are correct and that our lives would be better served underneath a demeaning boss because well..the benefits are good. These demons also tell us that we are not good enough; that we will never be the next Rowling or Grisham so why try?

Hold on..ask yourself this question: How many times have you allowed the demons in your life to hold you back from things that you wanted to do because of fear? Do you recall what the consequences were? How would your life have differed if you had in fact followed your instincts? The only failure lies in that which we have never tried. This means that if you try it and succeed..then great! That was the goal and it is so rewarding to see something positive come to fruition. However, if you try something and it doesn’t quite pan out, there is usually a lesson to be learned. Assess it, learn from it, and move on.

If you ever find yourself stuck at any part of the writing process here are some practical tips that I have and still employ to this day:

  •  Put the keyboard down, step away from the computer, and no one gets hurt! Sometimes we really do need a break from the screen. I find that staring at a blank screen for hours trying to force something out can be extremely counterproductive. Instead, go for a walk and look at your surroundings. Is there something that you can use as a writing cue? What about that nosy neighbor? Is she nosy because she’s hiding something herself? What about the neighbor who has an awesome car and house but never really leaves the house? Does he have a successful home business or is he a drug kingpin? There are many possibilities but you get the picture

  • Go out. Maybe to the bookstore. Why is that guy acting like he’s reading a book when clearly he’s looking at you? Does he have a genuine interest? Does he think you look familiar? Does he have something more sinister in mind like; following you home and stalking you until he can make his move to kill you? While it’s drastic and highly unlikely it does make for an interesting story. Maybe he’d like to chop you up and serve you as the new “Chef’s Midnight Special” at his family’s diner.

  • Take baby steps. Maybe you don’t have it in you to start or continue your novel today. Maybe you could just work on a small portion like one of the characters or the title of the book. If you don’t feel like writing at all, do some reading. Read an interesting book..whatever the subject matter and have some fun. You might even get an idea or two from your reading. When I’m really in a rut and feeling discouraged, I look up agents and publishing houses just to see who and what is out there. I draw inspiration from it because I think “That could be MY agent or publishing house!” Find out who critiques or publishes your genre of writing and write down some of the names. Of course it is way too early to contact them but isn’t it nice to dream? I believe in positive thought in addition to action. If you claim something and really believe in it, you will likely succeed. Take oxygen for example: you don’t see it but you are breathing it so it MUST be there! Treat your dreams like that; you don’t see it but it’s already there. Act as if it is oxygen; as if you have no choice but to believe..lest you cease to breathe.

Writing is probably one of the hardest jobs I have ever had because there isn’t always immediate gratification. In addition..there is no one there to hold your hand or to micromanage you. You are essentially on your own. This can make it difficult to stay motivated. However, if you keep working at it and chipping away at your goals and believing that what you desire is already there for the taking, you have no choice but to succeed.