and who may have sometimes admitted to the experience. I used to subscribe to the notion that there was such a thing as writer’s block but now I’m not so sure.writer\’s block.
Most successful writers, both fiction and non-fiction rarely, if ever admit that writer’s block dogs them and their career. If you want to know the experience of successful freelance writers, then Sharon
over at Get Paid to Write Online is a person who just gets on with doing her job. The difference between writers who rarely complain about being blocked, and those who just get on with the job is often because those people have established proper writing routines.
Writing and Routines
Writing, like a lot of other things we writers do is largely a matter of getting on with things. Whether or not you write for a living will, to some extent, govern your sentiments towards writer’s block. If paying the mortgage and putting food on the table depends on your writing, then you have to adopt the same attitude as you would with any other job, get on with it. Banish writer’s block with good, firmly established writing routines.
The hardest thing about being a professional writer in whatever field, is that because you work from home, people will assume that you are always available. It is up to the writer to safeguard his or her writing time and to categorically state to family, friends and neighbours that they are not available between certain hours because they are working. It is up to the individual to set aside time for their writing, but if you want to live by the pen, then you have to practice getting on with the work.
Horses for Courses
Everyone has different ideas about writer’s block and writing routines, and how often they should write and for how long. Most professional writers agree that you need a routine, a regular time when you just sit and write. All professional writers, whether or not they write fiction, have to make time for dealing with the nitty gritty of writing as a business, which means they can’t afford to have writer’s block. Clients have to be communicated with and billed, publishers want their authors to read the galley proofs and do their own promotion. As a writer you will wear a number of different hats. I am not going to suggest a particular routine, or the best way to deal with the non-writing aspects of professional writing, because everyone will have different priorities and various other responsibilities – which is why I’ve titled this paragraph horses for courses, all writers are not the same.
The one thing that is common to everyone in the writing business is that if they want to eat they can’t afford writer’s block, they need to work. Some writers say that setting aside certain days of the week works for them, while others say that you should write every day. I try to write every day, whether it is freelance work for a client, finishing a research report, or getting on with writing the next book in the Lambeth Croak Series. Getting into a writing routine that suits your lifestyle is a sure fire way of beating writer’s block. If you feel stuck then try free writing first thing in the morning, something advocated by many writers.
Those writers who find it difficult to establish viable writing routines often have what I call time sinks – something we all have to deal with at points. Too much time on Twitter or Facebook, checking emails every ten minutes or doing something other than writing are all time sinks. If you want your writing to literally disappear down the plug hole, then don’t do anything about the time sinks. If you want to progress in your writing however, then try what many time management experts recommend, check what you do during every thirty minute period while you are awake over the next fortnight. Once you have identified where the time is going there’s a good chance you’ll be able to pull it back, get on with your writing and stop bleating about writer’s block.
Sometimes words come easier with a pen
All writers get the writing wobbles, often referred to as writer’s block. Wobbles happen, particularly if you are writing a long document such as a research report, a thesis or a novel. Writing wobbles also happen when you are freelancing, writing several articles on the same subject, putting a different spin on something you have already written, or writing something in an unfamiliar area or discipline.
Writers, if they are to continue writing, have to find a way of dealing with their block or wobbles. No doubt everyone has their own way of dealing with a difficult writing situation. The problem, if you are new to writing, is to feel that these problems are something unique to you, they are not. Just take a look at the number of books and articles written about writer’s block, or ways to unleash your creativity and add a spark to your writing. The thing not to do, is to give up, there is usually a way through your problem.
Dealing with Your Writing Wobbles
Sometimes the only way to deal with a writing problem or wobble is to change your normal pattern of writing. Below are a few ideas for changes that can carry you beyond a block and into deeper writing.
1. Free Writing
You’ve no doubt heard about the concept of free writing, the trouble is that so many of us seem to forget about it when we most need it. Just to clarify, free writing involves picking up a pen and writing anything, if you can’t think of anything then write about that. Keep your hand moving and don’t stop writing until the allotted time, say ten or fifteen minutes is up. Sometimes whatever is troubling you, whether it is a point of fact or fiction, comes to the fore as you are going this. Free writing works on a similar principle to morning pages which are also designed to release the writer within you.
2. Change Your Mode of Writing
If you normally write straight into the computer then why not try a different way of writing. I often find that writing with a favourite pen in a notebook means I tend to over think something a lot less. Handwriting can make your writing seem more immediate. I often use this method for rough first drafts of something and then tidy it up when I put it into the computer.
3. Do Something Creatively Different
If changing how or when you write, or what you write with isn’t working for you, then try something else creative. Many people find that baking or painting a wall frees up their creativity so that they come to their writing afresh.If you enjoy sketching and painting then try that. The point is to find something that you enjoy, knitting or crochet for instance, that is creative but that has nothing to do with writing. There are studies which show that when you exercise your creative muscles in whatever form, it pays long term dividends and can make a person more creative.
Don’t feel that you are alone, even the most productive and hard working writer sometimes feels blocked or has the wobbles. If you write for a living, you will know very well that writing every day and sometimes into the night as well is tiring. If you allow yourself to become too tired then you will find most things difficult, not just writing. Bottom line, don’t beat yourself up. If writing seems impossible then do something else for a while. It is often the case that taking a break from something, makes it easier to do when you come back to it. What do you do about your writing wobbles?
If you are a writer then there must be times when you question what writing actually means to you. I’ve not posted on this main page for several months but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing, I’ve just neglected writing here, and for that I apologise to my readers, I spent a long time editing my first novel and getting it up on Kindle. We do need to think about writing and what we write as some writing really can get you into trouble. Are you passionate about your writing, would you write whether or not there was any profit in it. It might be worth considering the following
1. Who do you write for?
2. Would you write even if your writing was never read by others
3. Do you use writing as a form of therapy
Let’s look at the above issues one at a time because I think that these are things that most writers need to think about at some point during their writing life.
Who Do You Write For
I think that we all write for an audience, even if it is only an audience of one, ourselves. You may be the only person whoever reads your writing, particularly if you do most of your writing in a journal or notebook. Most writers will keep one or both of these but some writers find it much harder than others to put their writing out there for public scrutiny. Much of this is about fear. If there really is such a thing as writer’s block, I believe it stems from a fear of the blank page and the fear that what we write will never be good enough – that’s not the same thing as improving on something you’ve written. Writing is only ten percent art and ninety percent craft and I believe that is the case for all the creative arts. Even if you don’t want to make your writing public, it’s a good idea to have someone in mind when you sit down to write.
Why Do You Write?
Whether you write for an audience or not, it is worth examining why you write and sometimes this is best done within a nurturing, writing community. Over the years I have been part of a generous online writing community who are always willing to advise, help and share. Due to a personal trauma some years ago I neglected my online writing friends. When we are in the middle of something emotionally traumatic and frightening it is all too easy to act like a tortoise. If you hibernate for too long, then eventually friends will drift away and then it is up to you to try and rebuild that sense of community. For the past couple of years I’ve been part of an offline writing group. Sharing your work in small group settings is not nearly so frightening and you will be surprised at how caring and helpful other writers can be. If you only write for yourself, that’s fine, but sometimes another pair of eyes reveals a richness in your words that you can miss when you don’t share.
Writing to Heal
Many people write because they need to get something out of their head. In my case, as a survivor of domestic violence, I found that writing out my thoughts and feelings and naming the problem, almost twenty years ago now, was a large part of my healing process and survival. Writing really can heal all those things that you thought you would never be free of. One of things that I picked up on twenty years ago was free writing or morning pages where you just sit down and write, it really can free your creative side. If you can’t think of anything to write then write that down, eventually words will flow and emotions that have long laid buried are brought into the light. Writing can heal your life, it can help you solve your problems, and it can bring you and many others pleasure and emotional support. Why do I write? I write because writing is central to who I am and what I do. How about you?