I recently put out a post with a few suggestions on how to beat writer’s block (here). They weren’t all-encompassing or anything, but at least it’s a start.
Today I’m going to continue along the same line with a list of reasons why you (maybe) haven’t finished you manuscript yet and, more importantly, a few ideas on how to get around these stumbling blocks.
Problem: You are being a perfectionist. You write and edit so much that you are taking 3 months to write 200 words, and then you decide to fix them.
- Solution 1: Just WRITE. Pick a set amount of time. A week, a day, three writing sessions, whatever you decided, but during that time you are NOT allowed to edit.
- Solution 2: Take a break from writing. Make an outline. Figure out where you want it to go. Then give yourself a timeline to get it there. THEN you get to go back and edit.
Problem: You can’t find the time to write.
- Solution 1: Take a deep breath. Now, if you are so pressed for time, bookmark this page, and go write. Now. No excuses. Come back in 500 words.
- Solution 2: You know there’s time there… somewhere. If you keep misplacing it, you are probably as distracted as I am. Do you sit down at the computer to write and, two hours later, wonder why you’re reading the news? Then try post-its on the keyboard (“No Internet until you’ve put in 2 hours!”).
- Solution 3: You aren’t working effectively for your life/body/whatever. Sure, getting up early to write sounds good, but if you’re a night owl, it might not work that well. Writing can make you feel like you’re soaring on high, but not if you can’t pry your lifeless body out of bed to do it. Similarly for those who try to fit it in at night, but fall asleep on the keyboard. Adjust accordingly.
- Solution 4: Your research somehow is never done. I don’t know what to do if you’re writing non-fiction, but for everyone else, if you spend 3 times as much time on Wikipedia as typing, then either remember that it’s fiction, and you can make stuff up OR put a note to research stuff at another time and separate your researching and writing time blocks… with a brick wall.
Problem: You’re not sure why, but somehow, you keep not getting it done.
- Solution 1: You might be afraid of failure (or success). If that’s the case, try not to dwell on the outcome. Focus on the road there (“Boy, this character is really a creep! He’s fun to write, but I’m glad I’m never going to have him for a neighbor!”). Then, in your spare time, figure out what’s really bugging you and seek better help than I can give.
- Solution 2: You might be having commitment problems. Yes, you say you want to write that book, but then why does clipping the dog’s nails somehow always make it higher on the priority list? If this is you, then give yourself smaller chunks to do and definitive timelines. Get an accountability buddy. Somebody who will know and look disapprovingly at you if you don’t turn in your work on time (maybe friend your 7th grade English teacher on FB?).
- Solution 3: Are you easily dis tractable? Perhaps you have too many projects going on. Or maybe you are easily bored and need a couple projects to work on simultaneously so when one gets stuck, you can keep the words going with another. Adjust accordingly.
I have (sometime simultaneously) had all of these problems. I’m sure there are more, so feel free to share other problems (and solutions if you’ve got them). Otherwise, I hope y’all find this useful