By guest blogger Deonne Kahler
Feeling stuck with your writing? Join the club. Despite the fact that Joyce Carol Oates seems to crank out a new book every, oh, 73 seconds, the rest of us struggle with the occasional writing quagmire.
Here are a few of the reasons I’ve been stuck in the past, and what I’ve done about them:
Problem: You’ve got no good ideas.
The Fix: First off, that’s simply not true. You have a ton of good ideas, you’re just feeling insecure. What you need is to find an assignment to focus your brilliant mind. Offer to write a post for a friend’s blog, volunteer to write an article for a local nonprofit’s newsletter, or find an online writing contest and submit a poem or short story. Assignments give you accountability – someone is waiting for the work – and might even give you a deadline, which puts some (good) pressure on you.
Problem: You’ve got too many ideas.
The Fix: Go for the low hanging fruit, and pick the idea that seems easiest for you to write about. “How to raise hedgehogs? I could write that one in my sleep!” (Note: This is just a suggestion. The author actually has no clue how to raise adorable prickly creatures.) There’s nothing wrong with putting the more difficult idea off until later. Writing something now is the most important thing.
Problem: You’re losing steam on a project.
The Fix: This often happens with long-form work, like a novel or memoir. If you can’t seem to move forward, put it down for a while and go where the energy is. What are you most excited about, right now? Have an idea for a travelogue? Or a video series on YouTube? Write about that. Start small – draft page one, or sketch out episode ideas – and see how it feels. Feels good? Keep going! (Note: Be careful with this. If you find yourself repeatedly abandoning one project for another, you may have commitment-phobia. That’s a different problem.)
Problem: Writing well is hard.
The Fix: Hoo boy, is it ever. But you know what? Feel free to write badly. Take a cue from Anne Lamott and write that “shitty first draft.” Get that terrible writing out of the way now, knowing that you can (and will) revise and make it better later. It doesn’t have to be perfect out of the gate, and I’m pretty sure even Joyce Carol Oates writes some truly awful first drafts. Or at least we can pretend she does.
How have you escaped being stuck? Share your thoughts below!
DEONNE KAHLER is a writer, photographer, road tripper, and mom to Sam the Wonder Pup. Her work has been published in anthologies, online, and in print. She also owns a business, JournalsAndNotepads.com, and is obsessed with paper products, National Parks, small towns, and quirk. She blogs about living an unconventional life at GoneScamping.com.