You’ve got your whole afternoon blocked off for writing.
You’ve just gotten off work, turned off your phone and found a quiet place to spend some quality time with your keyboard. You take a deep breath, open MS Word, and…
Two hours later, you don’t know where the time went but it certainly didn’t go toward writing. You’ve got about half a page, and it isn’t a very good half a page. But at least you know what all your Facebook friends are doing.
Whether you call it Resistance, Writer’s Block or just plain laziness, every creative struggles with it. Or at least I do. Before writing this, I spent two hours in the library, staring at a blank screen.
So how are we going to beat this? I wish I had some foolproof magic formula, but this is something I battle every day as well. I do, however, have a couple strategies that make this a little easier for me and will hopefully help you as well.
Good enough isn’t good enough
I’m sure you’ve heard people say on the Internet that if you just get started working on something, your momentum will carry you.
Maybe that works for them but not for me.
Does this sound familiar? You’ve been cranking out words for 30-45 minutes and feel like you’re on a roll. You’re actually starting to enjoy yourself when suddenly your subconscious kicks in, patting you on the back and telling you that you’ve done a good job for the day and it’s time for a break.
This happened to me the other day. After an hour of working on my novel, I heard that voice telling me to call it a day. Instead, I reminded myself that good enough isn’t good enough, and ended up with one of my longest writing sessions in a while.
So don’t be tempted to call it quits when you feel like you’ve done enough.
The one piece of writing advice I’ve never been able to implement
I can’t count how many times I’ve been told that I just need to pick a time of day and that’s my time to write.
This probably works better if you have a consistent schedule but if you’re a college student like me, you might have morning classes one day and night classes the next.
It’s tempting to just say, “I’ll write when I feel like it,” but more often than not, “when I feel like it” turns out to be “nowhere near often enough.”
If you feel the same way, you might consider waking up a couple hours before your first class or writing sometime late at night if you’re not a morning person.
Whichever way, a consistent writing schedule will help you be more productive.
Make it time sensitive
The quickest I ever wrote was to impress a girl. We had met at church that morning, talked about our works-in-progress, and exchanged email addresses so we could swap first chapters.
The only problem? My first chapter wasn’t written yet.
I don’t think I’ve ever written more in my life than I did that night, trying to crank out something that would impress her (she was hot after all).
The point is, I had a deadline that was important to me and that encouraged me to write faster than I would have otherwise.
Now, you may not have any cute girls you need to woo with stories of gruesome murders, but there are plenty of ways to put deadlines on yourself.
For one thing, you can start a blog. I know this is laughably hypocritical of me after a month without posting, but if you’re serious about a blog, you need to post regularly in order to build a following. (Something I had to remind myself of this morning.)
Another option, if you’re in college, is to take a creative writing class. There’s no better motivation to write a good short story than to know that your grade depends on it.
Finally, you can join a writer’s group.
I go to a critique group each Monday and I always promise myself that I’ll have something new to show them (which has led to a couple Sunday night panic sessions).
Don’t let writer’s block win
You no doubt have big dreams for your writing. Don’t fall into the trap of saying something is “good enough” or refusing to get on schedule.
Unless your name is EL James, the world needs your writing.
Don’t let anything stop you. Especially yourself.