Overcoming Writing Road Blocks


Don’t you hate road blocks?

Whether or not you’re attending the free call on book writing tomorrow, you’re probably struggling with some sort of writing obstacle. I won’t use the term “writer’s block” because I don’t think it’s a legitimate malady. In fact, I’m of the opinion that most writing obstacles are self-inflicted. We are a people prone to making excuses; why should writing be any different?

Yet I’d bet when the deadline is looming and the check is imminent, you find a way. We all do. That tells me that we create our own personal speed bumps, brick walls, black holes, which is where our creative writing gets delayed or forgotten.

Time to change that. Here are a few ways to overcome your own personal writing obstacles:

Give yourself a deadline. Either choose a contest you’d like to enter that has an actual deadline, or set a pretend deadline for yourself. “I will write 50,000 words by January 15th”, for example. Just make sure when you set such deadlines, you do so in public — be accountable to someone for that goal. You’ll be amazed at how much better you adhere to your own goals when someone is watching.

Schedule your writing. Can’t give that book manuscript more than 30 minutes a day? Then write it down, put it on your Outlook or Lotus Notes calendar, and time yourself. Thirty minutes with no interruptions, breaks, or other work getting in the way can be quite productive. It’s your own mini-deadline. That in itself may motivate you.

Insert a “what the hell” moment. If you think you’re stuck on plot or character, give yourself permission to just write without worrying about keeping it, as in “What the hell, let’s just try this…” Expect it to be bad. Expect to revise it. Expect it not to go anywhere. Use it as a means to move ahead.

Stop looking back. One of my worst habits was getting stuck in the first few chapters. I would always look back, edit, overthink it, or give up because it wasn’t going anywhere. Instead, press ahead.

Don’t get lost in the dream. Show of hands; how many of you start that novel with its success already burned into your mind? That’s a great way to hurry the process to the point where you can’t possibly see the finish line for all the fanfare of your first author’s event (still all in your mind). How can you possibly live up to that fame when you get stuck on details somewhere in chapter seven? Focus on today, and on the story.

Have patience. I remember a friend saying to me she couldn’t be bothered to finish her book. “It’ll take me two years after it’s written to get it published!” And yet here we are, five years later, and she’s still struggling to finish the book. Don’t let time and distance dissuade you. Instead, work on it passionately and forget about where it’s going or where it isn’t.

What are your obstacles? How have you overcome them? Which ones still haunt you?

Previous post:

Next post: