For every writing problem you have, there is an answer. Not necessarily an easy answer that involves lamps and Genies but an answer nevertheless. We’ve all been there and done that when it comes to writing. So if you’re struggling to write, here are four common things that can stop you from writing – and how you can break through them.
1) “I don’t have time to write”
There was a TV show when I was younger, about a boy with a watch that could stop time. I think every writer on Earth would kill for one of those. But alas they don’t appear to exist yet.
Most writers struggle to find time to write. Even published ones. Writing only pays a liveable amount to those at the very top of the pile. So unless you have a trust fund or a wealthy and generous partner, then you’ll probably also have a job. On top of that, you may have a family, kids, pets, and all sorts of other commitments. There will be days, weeks, and sometimes months when you simply don’t have the time to write – and you shouldn’t feel bad about them. And if you struggle with writer’s guilt, then I have the blog post for you!
But, the fact remains that your book/short story/poem, etc isn’t going to write itself. So if you really want to write, you’re going to have to make time to do so. And that might mean making a few little sacrifices like waking up a bit earlier or writing in your lunch break. If you’re looking for more tips, try my blog post about how to write when you’re at work or one about how a schedule can keep your writing on track. Have you considered keeping a notepad in the toilet? Hmm on second thought that might be taking multi-tasking a bit too far.
2) “I’m just not inspired”
You can’t write without inspiration, right? Well actually, you can. People who write for a living (and I don’t just mean novelists here, I mean anyone who needs to crank out words to pay the bills) have to be inspired on cue.
A lot of the time inspiration is a cyclical thing – you won’t be inspired until you sit down and try to write. That being said, I have a post here with some tips to get inspired if you’re struggling. I even have some suggestions that don’t involve leaving the house. And a whole bunch of inspiring places – if it helps!
Often it can be something specific in our Work in Progress that’s keeping things stuck. If you’re having issues with a particular scene, then skip it and move on. And a simple walk can work wonders for the old noggin.
3) “I’m not sure my writing is any good”
To quote Shrek “join the club, we’ve got jackets.”
Every writer ever, in the history of writing, has doubted their work or their writing abilities. All of them. It’s completely natural. In fact, if you haven’t doubted your work or your creative skill, that would be ringing alarm bells. It’s so natural I wrote a whole post about how to cope with writing self-doubt.
Take a moment to step back and let your work breathe. When you return to it, give it a once over. It might be it just needed that time. Or it might really not work and you have to scrap it. Don’t chuck it entirely though. It may come in handy to cannibalise for parts in the future.
You also need to remind yourself why you write. Why do these characters dance through your head and onto paper? You may not be the next Charles Dickens (I know I’m not), but you will always have to write.
4) “I keep getting distract-oh a butterfly!”
The modern world is full of things vying for our attention. Not just the good old tele, now we have computer games, apps, streaming services, and the internet – a wonderful and terrible place. That’s not counting all the things we have to do in our lives (like eat and wash). When you turn on your electronic device to write (as most of us do), you open up a world of distraction right at your fingertips.
You can try swapping your laptop for a pen and paper. But if you type faster than you can write, you may need to unplug the internet – literally or by using handy browser extensions. Noise-canceling headphones can also be useful.
So those are some ideas to help with writing roadblocks. What are your top tips to get past major writing difficulties?