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
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
Here are a few common ways that writing productivity problems manifest. Which one(s) ring true for you?
Time and scheduling difficulties * difficulty starting projects * rejecting ideas prematurely * drawing a blank * daydreaming * procrastinating * organizational challenges * no good place to write * perfectionism * excessive editing or rewriting * overworking * binge writing at deadlines * difficulty with stopping * difficulty completing projects * psychosomatic/physical issues * difficulties sharing writing * fear of criticism * traumatic writing experiences in the past * lack of support * isolation, depression * anxiety * other mental health issues * drug/alcohol abuse * fear of success.
It’s important to be specific about the nature of your particular difficulties before embarking on a program of change. Every struggling writer will overcome the difficulties in their own particular way.
Each time you put off working on your article, poem, or novel, you create a moment of relief for yourself. It feels good to procrastinate because (for a while, anyway) you don’t have to face the many challenges that writing presents. Unfortunately, this works like house-training a new puppy by giving him a biscuit when he pees on the rug instead of on the paper. There is an experience of some immediate, welcome relief but what follows is a mess you have to clean up later.
Procrastination operates like a heroin addiction: it fixes our immediate discomfort while Continue reading
Many friends, lovers, mentors, therapists and colleagues have lost patience with the blocked writer in their life, and finally resorted to what I call the “Nike Intervention.” Whether it’s intoned as wise counsel, a desperate plea, an autocratic command or a contemptuous barb, the impact on writing productivity is generally neutral or negative.
Occasionally the right person at the right moment says “Just do it!” in just the right tone of voice, and the struggling writer experiences an epiphany that dissolves the blockage and releases a glorious flood of pent up words into the world. Usually, however, the writer who hears these words experiences Continue reading
David Duchovny stars in the TV series, “Californication” as a blocked writer with a variety of interpersonal and emotional challenges. The first season of this series depicts a talented, successful author with impulse control issues who hasn’t written for years despite the agonized pleas of his agent, ex-lover and others. Instead of writing he spends his time drinking, screwing, getting into fights, trying to be a parent, and desperately trying to win back the affections of his ex, who is about to marry a less colorful but more stable man.
The ‘blocked writer’ is a common theme in movies and literature, Continue reading
Some writers work in a very disciplined, consistent way, yet seem to get no closer to the finish line. One issue that can be connected to this problem is excessive editing of first drafts. This approach makes the experience of writing slower and more stressful.
Significant mental energy is required to solve editing problems while simultaneously trying to generate ideas. Elements of perfectionism are commonly associated with this premature microscopic scrutiny of the fine points of an early draft. Frustration, doubts, fears of failure, Continue reading