Red Lettering

Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

Archive for the tag “Procrastination”

Blankly Staring

The writer has been writing for years. The computer screen and paper have become normal to the writer, and when the writer is ready to sit down and write, that is what happens. And yet, as the writer sits in front of the computer screen, an empty document accusingly staring back, the writer knows quite suddenly that the writer had no idea what to do.

It’s a trend among writers. Some people call it writer’s block. Some people don’t call it anything, they just look desperately toward their computer screen and hope that something will come into their head. Some say that it’s just laziness; some that it is the worst thing to ever befall a writer. In the end, most people admit that it does exist. The monster that plagues writers is, unlike some other things connected to writers, not a fantasy, and it shall bring terror to all writers at some point in their career.

What most people don’t care to mention is that that’s okay. Of course there will be times when you would want to try sweeping your lawn free of all dirt over writing your novel. You will almost certainly find that on some days you would rather categorize every item in Wal-Mart according to the expiration date. And that’s not unusual; it’s even normal. Yet there comes a time when you might be suffering from writer’s block, and you need to write. It does not matter the pain that shoots through your body with every word, for it simply must be written.

And then, what must be done?

There are so many things on the internet telling you how to combat this terribly malady that spreads through the writing community’s system one person at a time. Looking through them might show you ways you never thought of to help you write past the block. Then again, it might not.

What some people don’t seem to understand is that when some writers say writer’s block, they don’t mean that they don’t have the energy to write, or they can’t seem to find that perfect word. Most of the time when writers use the dreaded term, they mean their creativity has run dry. We feel we have lost connection to the story, whether it manifests itself in a morbid fear of returning, or being unable to find what to do next. With writers of fiction, creativity is vital. Stories cannot live without it.

The best way I have found to keep writing through writer’s block is to think and find what the problem is. To quote Professor Hamilton, from Bryan Davis’s Circles of Seven: “When you recognize an enemy’s weapons, they are easier to resist. If you are caught unaware, however, they are much more effective.”

Whether it truly is procrastination or something worse, when you find what causes you trouble, you can combat it more easily. Finding what made you be able to succeed in the first place and relying on that or finding a way to revive it to fight the block helps immensely.

Or, in reference to Donita K. Paul’s Dragon Keeper ChroniclesWear pink. It confuses the enemy. *

Confuse yourself; confuse the writer’s block. If you write Young Adult books, try your hand at books aimed for young readers. If you write Historical Romance, try a Space Opera. If you write High Fantasy, write something about Secret Agents. For a few minutes, try something entirely different that will make your head spin. If you hate it, you’ll be glad to get back to your novel. If you like it, you might find yourself revived to go on with your novel.

There are so many ways people say they avoid or combat writer’s block that I could not write them all here. Find the way you do it. Don’t let it conquer. Find a way to keep writing, and keep enjoying it if you can, and you won’t regret it.

Do you struggle with writer’s block? How do you handle it?

*I’m afraid I don’t, at the moment, have the book on hand to quote.


Procrastinating and Deadlines

Before I started this blog, I decided that, instead of making things up spur-of-the-moment and trying to pull together a legible blog on writing with regular posts and no planning, I wanted to put together a schedule for at least three weeks before opening the blog. So before the opening post, before even the blog was created, I had three weeks of posts planned to be written.

The only thing that I missed was that, as most authors do, I have a strong amount of procrastination, which tends to interfere with deadlines and goals. Yesterday, I was supposed to write and post an article. Clearly that didn’t happen, and while I have excuses–even reasons–I doubted that you would like to hear them. While thinking today about whether or not I should just ignore the fact that I didn’t post it, post it today and apologize, or simply post it today, I came across something that I should have planned to post about, but didn’t.

Undoubtedly you’ve already guessed the topic of this post (the title also makes it fairly easy).

I don’t believe that I know of a single human being who has not, at some point, struggled from procrastination. Procrastination is a leading cause of failing to achieve…anything. But for writers, learning how to overcome procrastination is massively important.

I know of authors who have beat seemingly impossible odds to finish their books. While writing Wednesdays in the Tower, Jessica Day George was pregnant with a baby, had a baby, and spent time in the hospital while she and her baby had a potentially life-threatening disease. And yet she still finished the book. This shows an amazing amount of perseverance.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl entirely re-wrote her novel Veiled Rose in two months while being courted, proposed to, and planning a wedding. This shows an amazing amount of perseverance.

I see these things that writers have somehow managed to do, look at them wide-eyed for a second, and then shake my head. “There is no way,” I tell myself, “that I could manage that.”

I think that most of us couldn’t for the simple reason that we haven’t started training for it.

When runners run a marathon, they train. When knights prepared to fight a tournament or a war, they trained. When writers are serious about writing and being published, they should train also.

Being published means deadlines. Deadlines demand perpetual work, every day. Which means that procrastination has no place.

Since I have a goal to be published in the near future, this is something that I need to learn. As I am the Queen of Procrastination, I fear that it will take both a lot of work and a lot of will, as it does for everyone.

But, as writers, we have an obligation to readers. If we write blogs, we have a day-to-day obligation, and if we write novels that we plan on someday releasing to the public, we have an obligation to write them well and develop our craft and perseverance for the days we’ll need it (so that, ten days before a deadline, you don’t realize that you didn’t write a word of your novel).

As Christian writers, we have an obligation to God, to let our every task honor Him. Putting off writing does not seem to be the best way to do that. Do your best. If you’re going to take the time to write at all, do whatever you can to make it worth the time you’ve already spent. That includes not procrastinating. Make your writing worth having His name on it.

As people, we have an obligation to ourselves. If we avoid doing the things we ought to do, we reinforce bad habits in ourselves and cut down the quality of our writing by depriving ourselves of the time that it takes to perfect a skill.

Don’t keep what you’re going to do to yourself. Tell the world that you will be writing five hundred words by the end of tomorrow, and should your personality resemble mine in any way, you’ll be more likely to do it.

Train yourself. Get over procrastination. You won’t regret it in your writing or your life. I’ll do it with you.

What are ways that you deal with procrastination in your writing? Thoughts go in the box!


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