Tag Archives: writing better

Breaking down that Brick Wall: Working through Resistance to Writing

8932033483_187b8a780e_zSo you want to write a novel? That’s fantastic! Writing is a great way to express yourself creatively and to explore new, interesting, and often difficult topics. Sometimes, writing is simply a way to relax and enjoy yourself.

However, writing isn’t easy. Maybe you sit down at your computer or notebook and hash out the first five, ten pages quickly, but then you stall. Or perhaps you’re stuck on the first page, opening sentence, etc. No matter how hard you try the words aren’t coming to you. It feels like there’s a wall blocking your creativity, and anytime you try to scale the wall, go around it, smash it, or plead for it to please move, it refuses.

Maybe the wall knows that you secretly don’t want to be sitting down and writing. Whether you’ve got too much on your plate, or your buddies are all going out to get a drink, sometimes you don’t want to write, even though you know you’ll feel great after you do.

Think about all that homework you had to do during your school years, that work project that’s due on Friday, vacuuming your entire house, exercising, scheduling that doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off (writing a blog post)…most likely you’ve experienced some sort of resistance in your life. (There’s a reason trainers will tell you that once you hop on that treadmill, you stay on it for fifteen minutes before deciding whether you’re going to call it a day.)

How do you overcome resistance?

Don’t wait for inspiration to fly in via a muse. Often that only serves to make resistance to writing stronger because the more time you spend away from writing, the greater the distance becomes between you and your story.

Resistance is a natural feeling. Many times resistance occurs when you’re doing something worthwhile. Why? Because that something is challenging.

You may love writing, but it takes work, uses energy, and can be exhausting.

So, what do you do?

  • Make a list. Create a list of all your writing goals for that day. (or goal, such as write 500 words, or write for 15 minutes) Once that goal is down on paper, tackle it. Many times having your goals written down makes them seem more real, and more doable. Plus, it’s always nice to be able to cross something off your list.
  • Make writing a habit. One of the best ways to shoot yourself in the foot is to write inconsistently. If you write for two hours Saturday, but then don’t write again until a week later, you’ll probably have to go back and reintegrate yourself with your story. By writing consistently, whether it’s every day or three times a week, you’ll remain focused and in your characters’ heads.
  • Don’t let resistance become an overwhelming monster. Ever experienced how putting something off only makes it a bigger challenge? If you’re feeling resistance to write, don’t close your laptop and call it quits, work through the resistance. It may take you fifteen minutes to write one double-spaced page, but you’ll most likely discover that after a bit that resistance fades away and your creativity flows.

There’s a reason why you’re writing. Remind yourself of that reason (hopefully it’s because you love writing for such and such reasons, like you have this story inside of you that’s just bursting to be told). When there’s meaning behind what you’re doing, often there’s less resistance.

How do you work through resistance?

(Photo courtesy of Hans Splinter.)

 

 

 

Squeezing Creativity From a Dry Spell

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Creativity is the life force of writing. It’s what makes readers feel alive, and is what captures and keeps their attention. Without creativity there would be no stories. So, what happens when creativity suddenly refuses to strike?

Writers can’t write.

They must find a way to reinvigorate themselves, or their work will come out feeling stilted and forced.

How do writers recover from a dry spell? Over the years, I’ve picked up a lot of different ways from a number of writers.

  1. Free write. Write down anything and everything that comes to mind. Verbal vomit, in many ways, can lead to new ideas, even if the free writing itself isn’t all that great.
  2. Gain a writing persona. Create a separate writing personality, someone other than you to write for a bit. Your hands will still be doing the typing, but you’ll be on a beach somewhere, while your persona gets the creative juices flowing.
  3. Learn something. Pick up gardening, astronomy, cooking, yoga, Russian, anything that might interest you. Read a few textbooks too. The more you learn, the more information you have to create from.
  4. Meet someone new. Each new person you interact with comes from a different background, and has a unique perspective. Never been far away from home? Go someplace utterly different and strike up a conversation.
  5. Keep a journal with you at all times. You never know when inspiration will strike. Perhaps the sun glinting off a rusty sign, or a man weaving straw hats on the boardwalk, can be used as part of a scene.
  6. Time yourself. Give yourself a set amount of time to focus on writing. It can be fifteen minutes a day, or thirty minutes every other day.
  7. Get outside. Yes, allergies can be a pain in the butt, but being outside can breathe creativity back into you. Go for a hike or a jog, or find a bench by a river and people watch. Heck, stare at the way the sun highlights the green in the trees’ leaves.
  8. Be in the zone. This term is usually applied to athletes, but it works great for writing too. When you’re writing, focus all your attention on writing. In fact, with whatever you’re doing be in the moment, whether it’s reading a book, washing the dishes, or participating in a conversation.
  9. Be open to everything. Judgment hinders creativity because it limits how you view the world. There’s a reason the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover,” has stuck around.
  10. Screw it. Not everything is going to always work out perfectly. There will be roadblocks, hiccups, and mountains. Recognizing this will allow you to move past the traffic jam. One of the great aspects of writing is that you can go back later and edit, so let a chaotic mess crash all over the page. Who knows, something great may come of it.

Have more ideas? Post them in the comments section

(Photo courtesy of subflux.)