There is Always a Reason NOT to Start Writing

The excuses we make: procrastination, bargaining and other disorders

For years, I have been collecting ideas that would lend themselves to stories at some future date. I used to write more poetry than anything and convinced myself I needed to go back to school to learn the tools of prose.

The stories grew in quantity and quality. Still I listened to others with well meaning opinions, “Stick to Poetry.” The first time I started to write a story it was long and clumsy. I used too many words and pondered too long on every detail.

I read other writers and their essays which seemed so full of thought. I hung on every word because there was meat, a satisfying nourishment that weaved throughout the work.

First I learned to shorten my paragraphs, to lessen the use of words and concentrate on sharpening the meaning. As the muscle improved, I began to weave meaning that would connect from one paragraph to another.

The structure of the paragraph began to make sense. I had developed a vehicle that could convey the story that was only an inanimate block on a page. My stories suddenly had legs.

All those years of excuses and procrastination suddenly dissolved the doubts that kept me from writing, from taking my own voice seriously.

Doubt allows us to do nothing. It teaches us to write things down for later. So many dust covered pages hide stories that will one day find a voice and get a breath of life.

Writing is that amazing world we envision come to life as we overcome our fear and doubt. Write until the muscle grows and write until you know how. It’s amazing what the future holds for someone who believes in themselves and writing. Start now.

This post is contributed as Guest post by Steven Linebaugh.

He is a creative and nature is his muse. His words are from his experiences in nature and the stories of depression and self awareness. His poetry has slowly mutated into prose and the future is open.
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On Writer’s Block

If you’re lacking inspiration, ask yourself what turns you on, what do you love?

Feeling “stuck” is a common experience for many writers. At some point in your writing career, you will probably find yourself in this predicament. I’m going to explore two versions of stuck.

Meditation on Writer’s Block

So, let’s talk a little about that insidious constipation referred to as writer’s block. Often, it’s a sense that the writing isn’t flowing. There’s simply no idea coming for the next chapter, next plot twist, line of dialogue, and so on. I’m sure you’ve experienced this, whatever you’re working on. Perhaps it’s just a momentary “stuckness” or it’s a more chronic problem. Here are some ideas to jolt you out of the muck and back into the “flow.”

  • Stop writing—Solving your problem can be as simple as this. Instead of wracking your brain, take some time away from the computer and go dance, work in the garden, take a walk, call a friend, read a book of poetry, have a cup of tea. Anything to break up your current frame of mind.
  • Meditate—Again, stop trying to write and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Think of a memorable moment in your life. Think of someone you love, a joyous occasion you shared, a time when you kicked ass, an unforgettably beautiful place you visited—a mountain you climbed, a river you paddled, a city you strolled!
  • Call on the universe for help—Perhaps explain to yourself what is happening in your story and that you don’t have any more good ideas. Then ask for assistance. Don’t expect an immediate answer, but I guarantee one will arrive, either in the middle of the night, while you’re in the shower, or when you least expect it.
  • Work on another story—Stop agonizing over whatever you’re fretting about and work on something else. Write a blog, a poem, a joke, a love story, whatever.

Most importantly, take a break!

The Writer’s Groundhog Day

One of the keys to success as a writer is to spread your fiction writing wings by writing a variety of pieces. I mention this, because as an editor I’ve encountered numerous writers with one novel under their belt, and nothing more. Another form of being stuck. They’ve woken up each day and worked on that novel and reworked it, then revised it yet again—Groundhog Day revisited—but somehow it’s simply not ready for publication.

At that point, my advice: it’s best to move on. Don’t let one novel or memoir become your writing albatross.

I realize it may be difficult to let go of the dream of getting that story published after you’ve put so much effort into it. But think of it as your writing primer, and now that you’ve learned so much about plot, character development, setting, point-of-view, and dialogue, you’re ready to tackle your next novel or short story. Perhaps you’ll switch to memoir?

For those of you struggling with this attachment, I can commiserate because for years I worked on a novel dear to my heart. It was semi-autobiographical, as many first novels are. And that novel received both the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Artist in Literature fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Seems logical that it should have been published, but after a number of rejections, I decided to take the advice of a veteran editor: “Put it on your shelf and move on to the next one.”

I did. It was my next novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow, that got published and recently won the 2016 New Apple Award in general fiction. The idea for this story came from a newspaper article about a girl who was cyberbullied and then committed suicide. It brought me up short. Almost immediately I knew that I wanted to write a story about cyberbullying and social media.

If you’re lacking inspiration, ask yourself what turns you on, what do you love? I recommend reading voraciously—papers, magazines, and books; watch movies, the news, and talk shows; take a trip to a place you’ve never been; keep your eyes and ears open to the world around you; observe people. Imagine their lives. Jot down notes, stray lines as they arrive, keep a story concept file.

Soon you’ll get an idea for a new book, I promise.

This post is contributed as Guest Post by Author Herta B. Feely

Her novel, SAVING PHOEBE MURROW, won the 2016 New Apple Award in fiction and is available from all major book retailers, indie bookstores, and Amazon. Released by Upper Hand Press (US) and Twenty7 Books (UK).

How do I start my story?

Getting all the Ideas Down . I still use the jam writing technique at the start of every story.

How do I start my story?  This is a question that many authors face, as they stare at the blank page.  I am going to share my method of starting to write that really works for me.  The method is called jam writing, or writing for ten minutes without stopping to edit or worry about flow.  I was taught this form of writing in high school, where I practiced jam writing daily by keeping a journal.  Back then, I would write about something that was bothering me, or about an event that I wanted to remember.  It was a rewarding process, that resulted in me being able to clear my mind and work through my feelings.

 Now as the journaling has evolved into story writing, I still use the jam writing technique at the start of every story.  Getting all my ideas down on the page is the first step in my writing process.  For me, the continuous flow of writing gives me more ideas.  There has been times that I have wrote that I don’t have enough ideas for a story, or the story idea doesn’t work.  Usually, after writing these statements one or two times, I will have an idea come to me.  The one idea is all I need to give me confidence in my idea, and then more ideas come to me as I continue to write.   From that written page of ideas, I can then organize them and build my outline.   

I hope the jam writing technique can help writers overcome the fear of where to start in the writing process.  It has helped me tremendously, and I encourage other authors to try it.  

Six ways you can stop procrastinating – and start getting writing done

Procrastination was called the ‘thief of time’ more than 300 years ago by the English poet Edward Young. Here are six steps to help combat procrastination.

Writer’s block just could be something else?

Six ways you can stop procrastinating – and start getting writing done

Procrastination was called the ‘thief of time’ more than 300 years ago by the English poet Edward Young.

While procrastination may or may not be the thief of time, it will certainly steal your peace of mind.

Putting things off requires mental and emotional energy.  Most who procrastinate are not at all lazy, they just shift emphasis to different things for different reasons.

When we are writing, is it possibly because we have made the task is too difficult, time-consuming, not your favourite part or just your mind playing tricks.

Why do we do it when it eats up peace of mind and vitality? Putting things off is just that – it’s just delaying action, and the more you do it the more there is to keep track of and worry about.

Already you are wasting time and energy and the stress is building up. You haven’t done any writing or editing yet and the day is drifting.

Gradually, it takes more and more effort to “not think about it”.  Yet the crazy thing is you’re going to have to get back to that chapter sooner or later.

The only difference procrastinating makes is that you have a gradually increasing level of stress and uneasiness and, when you eventually do get around to acting, you do so under pressure rather than from choice.

Here are six steps to help combat procrastination:

1. Take a few minutes to think about something you have been putting off and to feel, just how much stress putting this off has already caused you since you first realised the task needed action.

2. Think about, and feel, how much stress it is causing you – how much time you spend thinking about it (or trying to not think about it), feeling guilty about it, being reminded about it and so on. Again, get in touch with these feelings of discomfort.

3. Think about how much discomfort it will cause you if you continue to do nothing about it for another few weeks or even another a few months.

4. Okay, you have just experienced the uneasiness and unpleasantness involved in procrastinating on this issue, now let’s look at the benefits of taking action. Take a few moments to really feel how good it will be once you have taken action on this and put it behind you.

5. Think about how just how much time and effort this task will actually require. And compare the cost of taking action (in terms of energy, effort, etc) with the cost of not taking action.

6. Now do it. Right now, while it is still fresh in your mind and in your emotions. Or at least begin doing it. Or plan to take action within the next day or so – and make sure you stick to this commitment.

This post is contributed as Guest post by Alison Blackler. You can contact author on her website

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Writer’s Block … there’s no such thing.

Writer’s block is a choice, not an ailment; you can dwell on lack of progress and exacerbate laziness and mental negativity or you can choose to take a breath and reevaluate.

I’m not one to beat around the bush, so I won’t do it now when I reinforce my belief that there is no such thing as writer’s block.

Many will vehemently disagree, but these are the writers lazy in their approach to character development, plot lines, creative licence or the realities of time management. Harsh? It’s so easy to blame this mythical black hole in the centre of the brain for the drain on new ideas and vortex-sucking disregard for manuscript deadlines.

Continue reading “Writer’s Block … there’s no such thing.”