I know writers who can write on command. They do NanoWriMo every year and write a 75,000 word novel in four weeks as if it were no big deal. These writers get an idea, commit to it, and sprint to the finish line. Bing, bang, boom. Done. I hate them.
I’m a stopper and goer. I pause. I go back and edit even though I know I shouldn’t. The full plot of a story just doesn’t come easily to me and that’s ok because every writer is different. We each have our own idiosyncrasies and challenges. For some, beginning a first draft feels fluid and natural. For me, it feels like digging an Olympic pool with a teaspoon.
Three times in the last four weeks I’ve begun to put a certain idea to paper, only to scrap it and start over. I find myself asking “Is this how the story should be told? Is this the best point of view? Is this the best possible opening scene?”
I know that when all is said and done, I will write the story. The answers to all of my lingering questions will suddenly come to me in the shower, on the way to work, or in the middle of answering an email to my boss. That’s just how I operate. In the meantime, I must grip my teaspoon and dig with gusto.
If you need to trade in your teaspoon for an excavator, here are three simple pieces of advice from someone who has struggled through all different kinds of writer’s block.
- Don’t lose hope. Believe in your idea and KNOW that you will bring it to life.
- Don’t stop writing. Take breaks when you need to and let your mind wander, but be sure to return to your project as soon as you have a fresh perspective.
- Keep every draft. Even the crappy ones. They can serve as inspiration for new ideas or simply show you how far you’ve come.
So, what does writing feel like for you: a teaspoon, backhoe or something else? Do you have any tips or tricks to getting over your writing hurdles? I’d love to hear them!