Beating Writer’s Block

For the last couple of months, I’ve been having trouble, big time, with #amnotwriting.  What shall we call it?  Procrastination? Writer’s Block?  Aren’t they the same thing?

My worst enemy has to be procrastination/writer’s block.  Even when I have a deadline, I can always find something to do to keep me from doing what I ought to do. (Whew!  Trying saying that last sentence fast, five times in a row.)

Instead of writing on my novel that needs to be done ASAP, I find other things to do. My desktop really needs cleaning.  These magazines need to be organized and put away.  My fingernails are too long; I must clip them.  This article is so interesting.  I need to cut it out and file it in my idea file.  I need to work on the treadmill.  Twitter is calling, and I am supposed to be on social media to build a platform, aren’t I? The butt in chair approach doesn’t work when I work on a computer and the internet is only a click away.  Suddenly I look up and see two hours have gone by.  Writing time is gone.

Truly, procrastination had me in its evil clutches.

I looked through my writing material files and found many ideas for curing Writer’s Block.  Most of them involved not writing, which is what I was already doing–so how does that help?  I did see three that looked promising. 1.Reward yourself.  Promise yourself something special when you finish your project or x amount of pages. 2.Read over your notes before you go to sleep and let your unconscious (muse) work. 3.Write something, anything, but just write during your writing time.

But what is procrastination/writer’s block really about?  Why am I (Why are you?) putting it ( whatever IT is) off?  Really.  Why am I not writing?  I want to write, don’t I?  Yes I do, just not on this book.  I want to be writing my next book.  And why is that?  Well, if I don’t finish the book, then there’s no chance of it being rejected.  If I don’t write on a daily basis, I can use the excuse that I don’t have the time because I am so busy.  If I don’t finish the book, I won’t have to write a suspenseful ending.  If I don’t finish the book, then it can’t be compared unfavorably to my first book.  If I don’t finish the book, I won’t have to promote it.  (I HATE self-promotion.) So, I must be playing both “safe” and “perfect.”  They are like little devils sitting on my shoulder whispering dismal prospects.

Safe–if I don’t finish the book, then I don’t have to face rejection or self-promotion.  Perfect–if I don’t finish the book, then I don’t have to face not having a perfect book.

It all boils down to one thing: Am I a writer or not?

If I am a writer, then I write.  So, I force myself to open up my WIP document and read over the last few pages to get back into the flow.  I start writing.  I don’t know where I’m going with this.  The first ending I had doesn’t work anymore, but from previous experience, I know it will come if I keep on writing. Hmm. I get a flash of what could happen next and keep on writing.  Something I never even thought about pops into my mind.  Finally my block is broken.

I know my “safe” and “perfect” devils are not gone.  They are just waiting for the right time to jump back on my shoulder, but now I am ready for them.  Writer’s Block be gone!





About Sue

From the time, as a young girl, when Sue read the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, she was hooked on fantasy. She loves to read fiction and write within many genres, but she always winds up going back to fantasy. For years she has had fantasy stories spinning around in her head and now that she is retired from many years of teaching, she is putting those stories into book form. She has many interests, including quilting and playing the mountain dulcimer, but writing is the most satisfying of all. Sue lives in the great state of Maine with her husband of 38 years. She has been a factory worker, a waitress, a librarian, and a teacher. Her biggest job was being a mother and she has three grown children. Now that she is a grandmother, she is enjoying that role immensely.

Posted on October 4, 2011, in about writing, Authors - Sue Santore and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I very much understand you. Some procrastination is good. It frees your mind for new ideas, but when it gets in the way of your writing, something needs to be done. I’ll send you some “safe&perfect”-repellent.

  2. i have this GREAT idea for a second novel about a guy who wants to write a novel, but keeps finding excuses to procrastinate.

    See? That way whenever I DO procrastinate, I’m just doing research for my back-up novel! Genius! Because then, in order to avoid doing that, I end up writing my first novel instead. Still procrastinating- it’s a win-win for both of me.

    Hold on, they tell me it’s time for my medication now…

  3. I hear you. I found out last year that I got most writing done when I didn’t have time for it. When I actually had a night off from rehearsal, I got very little done. The knowledge that I had all evening led to massive procrastination. It happens even when I’m brimming over with ideas.

    • Laura, I know. I have lots of ideas, and they all seem better than the one I’m working on. 😉 I just have to make myself focus on this one first.

  4. I think it’s not writer’s block so much as making writing a priority to do. When I worked with a cowriter, one day I expressed concern to him that we needed to learn how to finish a book in a year because publishers were going to require that. He poo-pooed me, saying that deadlines were negotiable, and I had this immediate and horrifying vision that he would be blowing off the deadline while I was madly writing trying to make it — and he would still get 50% of the profits for not doing anything. I realized that he didn’t even have writing on the priority list. Everything else was more important (we are no longer cowriters). At that point, I started working on writing six days a week.

    One thing that may help is instead of doing a daily word count goal, do a weekly one. A weekly one is easier to meet because it life intrudes today and you just can’t write, you’re not instantly behind. Also set the goal a little low so it’s easy to exceed it. Mine is 2,500 words. I usually hit 4,000 — though while I was wading through the flotsam, I dropped the word count goal because I knew I would lose wordage.

    And don’t forget to take one day off to recharge and have some fun doing something else.

  5. Oh yeah! Been there. Done that. Frequently revisit the scene of the crime. *sigh*

    You’re absolutely right about ‘safe’ and ‘perfect’, but whichever combination I’m dealing with, it always boils down to ‘fear’…and you know what? The moment I actually write a paragraph, the fear disappears and the joy replaces it! Always! So why is it so hard to remember that and just write that first paragraph?

    We writers are an odd bunch *lol*

    • “So why is it so hard to remember that and just write that first paragraph?”

      Good question, Debbie. When I’m busy writing, I don’t have time to worry about it, but when I get in the fear/procrastination mode, I have to make myself sit down and focus, so I CAN write that first paragraph.

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