Free Unfettered Time – is it a Boon or a Curse for a Writer?

“If only I had a nice long expanse of free time, unencumbered by the responsibilities and constraints of my job and family….then I’d be able to really settle into my writing and complete my novel!”

I have heard or said something similar to this on many occasions. Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining is convinced he will realize his writing dreams when he quits his day job and becomes the winter caretaker at a closed resort in the mountains. When he gets there however, he spends most of his time in bed and wasting time.

If you are fortunate enough to obtain the mythical perfect window of unfettered writing time, you may find out Continue reading

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Adaptation: Nicholas Cage as a Blocked Writer

Nicholas Cage is blocked

Many movies feature characters who have writer’s block. Not surprising, because screenwriters often bring their own experiences into their manuscripts. Adaptation is one that does a beautiful job of capturing the angst and caustic inner dialogue of the struggling writer with accuracy and humor.

One scene of Cage staring at his typewriter uses voice-over to chronicle his thoughts as he tries to decide whether he should write or eat a muffin. Guess what wins. The self-loathing and despair that Cage exudes is funny to watch but also disturbing because Continue reading

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A Writing Block Saved His Life

A writing block saved his life

There is no simple answer to this question. There is a rich history of famous writers who have struggled with depression, and a good many other writers have less well known, but just as harrowing  stories. William Styron’s memoir, Darkness Visibleprovides a gripping account of his inner struggles and near suicide. In his book, Styron recounts an incident of becoming blocked when trying to compose a suicide note. As a result he didn’t follow through with his plan, so this particular block was quite fortunate.

A normally happy writer may develop a depression during a protracated dry spell. Depression impacts energy level, concentration, memory Continue reading

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Perfect Sloppy Writing

A touch of perfectionism isn’t such a bad trait for a writer to possess. It’s especially useful in the final stages of completing a manuscript, so the final product is grammatically correct, reads well, and looks presentable. When a fierce perfectionistic scrutiny is activated in the initial stages of the writing process, it can create stress and blocks for the writer.

Anne LaMott has a great chapter on first drafts in her book Bird By Bird .

Some writers produce one sentence at a time, Continue reading

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Making Deadlines to Stay Alive

If you are in school, write for a living or want to blog for money, you have to be able to write consistently. Some writing professions, like journalism, involve regular deadlines that can aid the reluctant writer by creating a fear of failure that surpasses the impulse to avoid.

Many writers who seek to make money eventually with their writing (bloggers, novelists) don’t have the kind of immediate deadlines that are most effective for nudging authors past their resistances. Countless impoverished literary hopefuls flounder in wordlessness as a result.

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Take the Plunge…Tolerate the Chill

I have worked with several writers whose primary challenge was taking the step of sitting down at their desk. Their anticipatory anxiety or other resistances create a mental barrier against taking the first step. Often they are entertaining an inaccurate and exaggerated estimate of the agony that will ensue if they write.

I love to swim but I dislike getting into the water due to the brief shock of the initial chilliness. I spend a good bit of time on the deck, contemplating and postponing my entry, but once I dive in and do a couple of laps, I’m plenty warm and I enjoy Continue reading

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Time and Writing

Many writers with productivity problems have trouble with time. You must find time, protect it, and then use it well despite the competing pulls of other responsibilities, people, pleasures, and the complex workings of your mind. Every day, through conscious planning or by unconscious default, you prioritize your activities and make decisions about how to spend time.

It can be quite a challenge to determine how much time the writing portion of your life requires, and to incorporate that into a workable routine. It may require some maneuvering to insert regular blocks of writing time in your daily and weekly schedule, and even if you find the time you are still faced with the daunting task of Continue reading

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