The Writer's Life,  Writing Basics

Don’t Let “Writer’s Block” Stand in the Way of Your Progress.

Here’s How to Move Forward.

Dear Writer,

Have you found yourself struggling to find ideas or progress on any one of the number of writing projects you have on your desk?

I know I have.

I have found myself looking at a task or project (writing or household), turning around, and engaging in some kind of mind-numbing time waster because the project looks daunting. Know what I mean? It doesn’t matter if it is trying to outline my newest novel idea, clean out the garage for a garage sale, or weed the alcove between my house and my garage where the birds plant weed seeds.

The tasks look overwhelming.

When did my garage and house get this cluttered? When did the weeds get this bad?

Writing can be the same way. When you start a major writing project, it can look like the (tallest mountain in the world). But I am reminded of a story told at a teacher’s institute one year. An employer asked his employee to move a mountain from where it stood to the other side of the building. He asked his employer how he was going to do that. The employer replied, “One stone at a time. Just move one stone at a time until the job is done.”

With writing, those stones might be committing one word after another until the first sentence is written. It might be writing the first paragraph or writing the first page or chapter. Whatever it is that keeps you going, start with that and keep it moving.

Here are some suggestions:

Because my life schedule is complicated, I had to choose an amount of time in my commitment: 10 minutes. The first day, 10 minutes seemed impossible. It seemed long the second day and the third. At some point, I was so engrossed in my writing that when the timer went off, I hit the snooze button for 5 more minutes. Then further in the month, I started hitting it a second time. Hmm! Time to set the timer for 15 minutes, then 20. Now, I sit down to write and set my timer for 60 minutes. At that point, I need to get up and move, but not before that. In committing to my time, I am forcing myself at some point to just get the words and ideas on the page.

Some writers commit to a number of words each day: 250? 500? 750? Or 1,000? The amount of words you commit to on the page is up to you, but what ever goal you set for yourself, at some point a week or two down the road, up the number.

I’ve tried writing as long as the music on an album plays (Yes, I’m that old) or a CD plays or your writing playlist. To me, this one is especially helpful when the music I’ve picked fits the writing project I’m working on.

I’ve even tried those writing apps that begin to make your words disappear. This one makes me paranoid because I fear losing anything I’ve written, but I understand that for some people this works.

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