You guys, I had a really hard time sitting down and writing this blog post. I don’t what it was, whether I just didn’t have any motivation, or I just REALLY needed to clean my desk absolutelyrightnow, but this post had a hard time becoming a reality.
Which is ironic because today I’m writing about common hang-ups…the things that stop us from actually sitting down and writing.
That never happens to you, dear writer…right???
Today, we’re going to face those hang-ups head on…exactly like our heroic main characters face their demons and charge into battle!
Nothing to get your blood boiling like a good, old-fashioned battle.
Turn on your favorite war movie soundtrack and let’s begin…
We’ll start with the most evil of all evil antagonists that can face a writer. This hang up is the WORST, mainly because all the other hang-ups we face stem from this guy…he’s the gross one that looks super handsome and wise and smooth on the outside but is actually full of snakes on the inside.
Seriously…why does it always have to be snakes??
This evil hang up is none other than the ever hovering…
If you cringed reading that, then you know exactly what I mean. Writer’s Anxiety is the problem I pretend I don’t have, but in my more self-reflective moments, rears its ugly head and stomps down on all my hopes and dreams.
Writer’s anxiety is what gets us questioning. Questioning the validity of our writing, questioning the depth of our characters, the believability of our world or our plot or our prose. Writer’s anxiety can get you questioning why you even write in the first place, what first made you think you’re a good writer, and don’t you know, everyone is going to see you for the fraud you are!
Except here’s the thing: Writer’s Anxiety is a LIAR. A big, ugly, slimy, no good, very bad liar. For a few reasons:
Firstly…Would you be writing if you didn’t love it? Probably not. Who cares if you’re actually good! Technique comes with time and practice, but love stems from somewhere farther up and farther within ourselves. And whether or not you want to get published someday, writers write because we love it. We know we have stories within ourselves that NEED telling. Writers are first and foremost storytellers.
Secondly…The world is full of stories. Sure, lots of those stories are the same, but how many of you also read endless retellings of fairy tales (*raises hand), or love mysteries, or enjoy a good romance? The structure is the same, the events, the timelines, they’re similar within each genre. But the heart, the soul of the story is different.
Writer’s anxiety will attack your own individuality, saying that your story has already been told. BUT…it’s wrong. Because unless you’re copying someone else’s story word for word, no one else in the world has told your story. Which is why YOU need to tell it!
Finally…if you copy someone else’s story word for word then yes, you are a fraud and dear God go find your own story! But if you are writing a story from your own truth, from your own heart, then dear God, KEEP WRITING. Only you can know the truth you have to share with the world, and only you can deliver it to the millions of people on this earth who need to hear it. Yes, people will disagree with you, yes, someone will probably say that your story has already been told. But they have a different truth, and it’s your job to write your own truth…not judge someone else’s.
In the end, Writer’s Anxiety can be boiled down to that negative Nancy in our heads…also known as negative self-talk. So let’s bit this in the bullet and start shifting your brain to thinking positively. About your writing, and yourself.
Because once you start thinking positively, the other writer hang-ups become mere hurdles to jump over, not terrifying rings of fire that render you a puddle of self-disappointed goo.
Besides, who doesn’t love adult homework?? I’ve created a workbook for you, full of tips, tricks, exercises, and encouragement for when you’re faced with a serious case of the writer doldrums. There is so much good stuff in this workbook, you guys! I can’t wait for you to see it, and use it. Make it a resource for yourself, to better yourself and your writing.
I’ve included something extra special in the workbook: encouragement cards. I’ve compiled some of my favorite inspirational quotes about life, self-worth, and writing. These are the things that I read to remind myself that I am in fact a good writer with an important story to tell.
Print these out on cardstock and use them however is best to you. Pin them up around your writing space, put them in your wallet, tape them to your mirror, use them as bookmarks, whatever your heart desires.
Ok, take a deep breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
Now that we’ve dealt with the root of all evil…er…the root of our writer hang-ups, let’s take a look at some other culprits.
Lack of Motivation
The next biggest hurdle is the lack of motivation. This is the one that has you running around your apartment doing mundane tasks that don’t really need to get done but you do anyways.
Like spontaneously baking enough cookies for an army… not that I speak from experience or anything.
When you’re facing a lack of motivation, you may think you need what you’re lacking: motivation. But actually, it’s more helpful to see your lack of motivation as a cue to take a minute, sit down, and reflect on your writing, and what actually motivates you to write.
This means examining why you write in the first place, why this particular story needs to be told, what you love or hate about your WIP. Reflecting on you and your writing helps bring it back into focus, and bring it back to your brain’s list of things-that-are-important.
The workbook I made for you has some questions to help with this self-reflection. If you’re feeling like you just can’t be bothered, pick up the workbook and go through the questions… I promise they’ll help.
Ah…procrastination is a sneaky one, isn’t it? It makes you feel all productive when really it’s just pulling you farther and farther away from what you really should be doing. This is the hang up that can really eat away at your writing time.
When I start working on super minuscule tasks that allofasudden become mega-urgent, I know I need to just sit down and get to work.
There are a few solutions to this but here are my two favorites: find a writing buddy, and manipulating procrastination itself to be useful.
Writing can be lonely, that’s no surprise. And lonely enterprises often lend themselves to being susceptible to procrastination. Why? No accountability.
When you have writing buddies to exchange ideas, work through plot problems, and inspire each other, your chances of procrastinating go WAY down. Excitement is contagious!
Find a writing buddy. They don’t have to be on the same path as you. Your perfect writing buddy could be a poet or a short story writer or a memoirist or a novelist! Find someone who gets your truth, the truth that you’re aching to convey in your writing and stick to them like glue.
Ask about their writing. Dig deep and ask the hard questions about why they’re writing, what they want to convey. In return, they’ll probably ask you the same questions.
Share victories! Did you make your 500 words a day writing goal for a week straight? Celebrate with your writing buddy! Did they submit their first pieces to a literary magazine? Celebrate!
Stuck in a plot twist? Ask them for advice. See how they would write the characters out the situation. They’ll ask the same of you someday.
It’s these relationships that, I believe, keep us writers from going insane. Knowing we’re not alone does wonders for our productivity and our creativity.
Don’t know where to find writing buddies? Check out the workbook for brainstorming tips on making writer friends. And as a bonus, find my list of “procrastination” tricks that will actually get you writing!
Ah writer’s block, how do I hate thee. Let me count the ways…
Writer’s block is the most famous of writer conundrums, but actually, the easiest to get through.
No, I’m not crazy.
Writer’s block is frustrating because it masquerades as a bigger problem than it actually is. The solution though, it quite simple.
Frustratingly simple…but simple.
Here’s the secret: find yourself a writing prompt (you don’t even need to like it), set a timer for five minutes, and write as much as you can.
…I told you the solution was frustratingly simple.
The internet is a wealth of writing prompts…I post new ones once a month here on the blog, and weekly on Instagram @thelexiconwritingblog! Search “writing prompts” in Pinterest and you could get lost for DAYS soaking up all those good ideas.
Starting is the hardest part, but find a prompt and you’re halfway there.
Let me point out too that not writing DOES NOT MEAN you’re a failure! It just means starting is really, really hard and the self-discipline centers in your brain just need to be trained a bit.
Really, truly, all it takes is finding a prompt, any prompt, and sitting down and writing for five minutes. Do it again tomorrow. Then do it again the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that. By the end of a week, you’ll have written a few thousand words and started at least one story. And that is something to be proud of!
And cause this workbook wouldn’t be complete without them, I’ve included some extra, neverbeforeseen writing prompts, and space to create your own. Because sometimes creating your own writing prompts for when you’re in a jam can totally count as your writing quota for the day.
So there you have it: solutions to the most common hang-ups you’ll experience as a writer. Now download that workbook and get writing!
What hang-ups do you experience? And what solutions have you found work for you? I’d love to hear in the comments, or shoot me an email at contact (at) thelexiconwritingblog.com!