Battling Writer’s Block

I spend a lot of time moaning and complaining about how I just can’t think of anything to write about. When I relaunched my website last March, I made a vow to get serious about my content: to be more helpful & insightful.  This was a double edged sword of a proposition: first of all, it’s less fun and a great deal harder to write something important than it is to make a fun list or post pictures. Which means I ended up posting less, and agonizing over my writing. The flip side is that my content became a good deal more useful and hence rewarding for me to write. While I’ve since come to realize that my blog is a space for both types of posts – the easy & the helpful – it’s still hard to write.

And this doesn’t just apply to my blog. I’ve been trying to gear myself up for NaNoWriMo for years now! And yet every time the 1st comes around I just don’t..write. I just put it off. I make a barrier in my mind, with a sign which reads: “I can’t think of anything to write about” and then that’s that.

The thing is, I feel so good when I write. When I finally sit down and say to myself: “write a blog post..now!” and the words start to come, it feels great. I love the feeling. When I publish something, I get giddy. I’ve had blogs since middle school and written short stories since I was very small, but I’ve never made any effort to consciously improve my writing or my writing habits. I’ve never taken a creative writing course, or any type of writing course besides high school English. Yet writing is becoming increasingly more important to me. Which is why I think it’s time to start battling my writer’s block and taking the process of writing more seriously!

Here’s what I plan to start doing:

1. Write every day.

Preferably at the same time every day, and preferably in the same place. But regardless of when or where, I need to make time to write every day. It can be for my blog, a story, a play or a novel, but writing an email, in my journal or something for school doesn’t count. Strictly creative writing! I’ll set the time limit at 30 minutes minimum and see where we get to from there.

2. Carry a notebook, brainstorm frequently.

As much as I proclaim my love for Moleskine notebooks on (practically) a daily basis, I’ll fess up: I use a bright blue, 140-page Hilroy for my blog brainstorming. And I don’t use it enough.  I’ve never been one to do any longhand writing, but perhaps I should start.

3. Think about writing, more often.

The cue card pictured above is one of many that lists some of my favourite quotes about writing. I just started this project today and I’m very excited to start tucking them into the nooks and crannies of my apartment, using them as bookmarks, and looking to them for inspiration – as well as a reminder to start writing!

I also want to make writing more of a focus in my life. Check out this insight from Chris Guillebeau:

Make your art your obsession. Fall in love with it. Experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t give it your attention. Say no to other things so you can make art. Learn to view sacrifice as an investment. Writing is a joyful experience that will bring you comfort and satisfaction, but you must put the hours in. Worry about getting your words in. Wake up early, stay up late, use that notebook you are carrying, appropriate those ten and fifteen-minute breaks in the day with nothing scheduled.

Ooh, juicy! I want that kind of passion in my life!

4. Sit down to write, even without inspiration.

Although I’ve learned this lesson time and time again from writing my blog, I always seem to forget: when I sit down to write, I can write. Even without a plan, a perfect idea, a structure or a subject. If I probe deep enough, that white blank page prompts me to fill it. It’s not always what I want, it’s not always what I intended, but it’s there.

5. Write without quality control.

This applies mainly to my creative writing pursuits outside my blog. I tend to get so fussy about how things sound, if my writing’s bad (obviously!) and end up cutting myself off before I really start. I have to start trying my damn best to just write things, pretend I can’t read them, pretend they sound as good on paper as they do in my head. And then resist the urge to go back and delete everything.

_________

Something to keep in mind: these aren’t the be-all-and-end-all of writing tips, by any means! I was reading my friend Gabrielle’s blog (she’s a writing prodigy, and actually writes. Like, a lot.) for some insight and found a link to a great article about motivating yourself to write as well as a whole series she wrote about Being a Writer which I missed completely when she wrote it and now must end this post so I can go read it in its entirety. You should definitely check it out too!

Like I said before, I haven’t dedicated myself to my writing as much as I want to. When I look at other bloggers and novelists I’m astounded by their commitment and passion. I may have that too, but I feel as though I haven’t worked at it, nor given myself permission to take those feelings about writing seriously. No more! Time to get down and dirty. I’ll keep you updated!

By the way, do you have any writing tips for me? I welcome them with open arms!

Killing writer’s block one day at a time,

11 thoughts on “Battling Writer’s Block”

    1. I signed up yesterday and I love it! It’s a great system. I definitely feel more relaxed and less cluttered after I do my 750 words. :) Thanks for the suggestion!

  1. I’m gradually learning that passion and commitment are both things you build over time. I think there’s a tipping point where obsession kicks in and it becomes natural to devote long stretches of time to something. Before that there’s a long stretch where you have to actively devote energy to maintain a schedule and get yourself to do the work. This on a micro and a macro scale too. Some days I have to drag myself to stand in front of my computer and start programming, but once I get started I just go for hours without noticing anything else. I’m not at the point of obsession and natural dedication yet, but I’m getting there.

    1. I love this comment, and I totally agree! Some might say that having to discipline yourself to do something means you’re not passionate about it but I disagree. It’s definitely something that builds over time. And you can’t get better at something without practice, right? I love this insight. Definitely what I’m starting to realize as well.

  2. You have to do NaNoWriMo, Steph! I will personally give you pep talks every day :) It remains one of the most awesome writing experiences that I’ve ever had, and I’ve found that the busier you are, the more likely you are to do well with NaNo.

    Too much time staring you in the face can be daunting, but if you only have twenty minutes to write, you can’t think about it too much.

    I love this post, and look forward to seeing more!

    1. Thank you Gabrielle!!!! :) I might have to take you up on your pep talk offer..but I totally want to do NaNo!! I bet it would be so incredible. I guess I have just commit! For once and for all.

      I am happy to be making more of an effort to write. Thanks for your support!! :)

  3. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was… well, the earliest I can remember proclaiming it was 8 years old. And I’ve wanted to be a novelist since I learned the word “novelist.” But I often find myself frozen when I try to finish a writing project. I have started so many stories, so many projects. And carried through on only one (and it was fanfiction, so I don’t know if that even counts).

    I’ve always wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo, but never felt like I could actually do it. Maybe this year I’ll do it.

    I love the quotes you include. They are super inspirational, and your tips are awesome. The biggest one being to just sit down and write every day. I find that I actually get writing accomplished if I just sit down to do it, just like I sit down to return emails. Make it a daily habit.

    Fabulous post! Good luck in NaNoWriMo–keep us posted on your progress!

    1. Awe that’s so sweet. The 8 year old novelist is an adorable mental picture. :) It it means anything, I totally think the fanfiction success counts – I don’t remember ever following through on something that wasn’t my blog (ie creative writing). We should all band together and do NaNo this year!!! I think we could totally do it. :)

      The quotes – oh man! Chris Guillebeau is so amazing and inspirational. I’m glad you connected to my ideas – I’ve been trying to work on my writing since that article! :) Let’s make it a daily habit.

      Thanks for the luck, I’m going to really try to do NaNo. :)

        1. I’m so committed this year! I’m going to try my darnest to follow through. I’m going to be posting a link to my author page on the NaNo website tomorrow – let’s become writing buddies!

  4. Pingback: Writing: Inspiration & Motivation » Life In Limbo

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