I mentioned in a previous post that one of the steps I am taking toward writing more is reading more. Not just reading, actively reading. Taking notes. Thinking about what I read. Taking it to heart. If there are suggested activities, actually doing those activities. Because, if there is an activity suggested in a writing book…it’s probably a writing activity, therefore, it gets me to write more. Huh. Look at that.
I also mentioned that one of the books I am reading is called Write. 10 Days to Overcome Writer’s Block. Period. Sounds pretty, promising, eh?
It’s an interesting approach to a very old problem; writers getting writer’s block. The author, Karen E. Peterson, tackles the issue of using both sides of our brains during the writing process, rather than just the creative, right side. I’m not very far yet, but I’ll let you know how it goes.
Anyway, one of the first little activities Peterson asks you to do is to study the reasons you don’t write. She lists ten and asks you to check them off if you can relate. I thought they were interesting and thought I would dive into a few, give myself a little head shrink and see if anyone else can relate.
Reasons to Avoid Writing:
- I never get time alone to write.
- I hate being alone.
- I squander my time alone in meaningless activity.
- I feel like I have nothing to say.
- I have so much to say but I don’t know how to say it.
- I don’t know where to start.
- I don’t know where the novel/project goes next.
- I shouldn’t have to revise.
- I hate the process of revising.
- I don’t know when to stop revising.
My results, when I started checking them off without thinking about them, were a bit surprising and a bit not.
The Reasons I Don’t Write:
2. I hate being alone
I didn’t actually think this was true and maybe hate is a bit harsh, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized, I do like writing in the company of others. I like being able to share a thought or a line or pose a plot problem. Even if I don’t do it, I like having the option. Also, the times I avoid writing the most are when I am alone. Because…
3. I squander my time alone on meaningless activity
I am much less likely to get distracted when I am with someone else, especially if that person is also working (I’m not saying I don’t get distracted at all, it’s just less likely). When I am alone, I find excuse after excuse to take me away from my writing (housework, my dog, TV, work-writing, social media, etc). This is why writing groups and scheduled write-ins are typically a valuable tool for me.
5. I have so much to say but I don’t know how to say it
6. I don’t know where to start.
7. I don’t know where the project goes next.
I feel like these go hand-in-hand and I checked them all rather emphatically.
I know I have things to say. I have stories inside of me and stories to tell. But, sometimes, the thoughts and stories and quotes and scenes and feelings get so jumbled that my fingers pause over the keyboard, my pen hovers above the page, or I simply wander off to do something else, hoping my brain will clear itself up.
Newsflash: It won’t.
The only thing that will get you writing is writing. The only thing that will get you past the fear of writing is writing. I know this. I just have to do it.
That fear won’t go away on its own. It won’t go away while you are watching TV or cooking or browsing Facebook. Trust me, I know. But, hopefully, by labeling the things that stop me from writing, by naming the fears and recognizing them, I can begin to take steps to overcome them.
If you went through this list, what numbers would you check off? What stops you from writing when you sit down at your desk? And what can you do to overcome it? Let me know. Trust me, I need the tips.