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10 Uncomfortable truths about writing

person with pointing at laptop image for article uncomfortable writing truths

It’s 10 am on a Tuesday, and I’m on Facebook scrolling scrolling….scrolling. Facebook isn’t on my to-do list (it never is).

I should be writing.

I click away from the Book of Faces and open my email to see what’s new in my inbox.

I should be writing.

This cycle continues for a few hours until I stop myself.

Finally.

I know this road, and I don’t like where it ends. Nowhere.

I’m avoiding my writing work because I’m feeling blocked. Stuck. Stumped. And uninspired.

These moments happen to all of us. Some people call it writer’s block.

I’m gonna share some uncomfortable truths about writing. Once you get them. I mean really let them seep into your bones, you’ll have less of these procrastination and avoidance days. They won’t ever go away 100%. But you’ll have fewer of them.

Let’s get going:

1

You’ll sometimes frequently dislike what you’ve written before and what you’re attempting to write at the moment. This can make you feel blocked.

You cannot let your opinion on what you’ve written be an obstacle. Each piece gets better with revision. Also, your writing gets better over time. Lots of time. There is no other way. Writing doesn’t improve by merely thinking and pondering about writing.

2 You don’t have a writing routine.

A lot of writer’s block relates to fear. Having a solid, repeatable routine for your writing can help drown out fear. See my post on becoming a prolific writer if you need help establishing set rhythms and routines for your writing sessions.

3

You’re not always going to feel inspired to write. Write anyway. Dig, dig, dig. Dig within for what feels like something that needs to be written. Stories that should be told. Experiences that need to be shared. Write them. All of them. Whether they sound silly hitting the page or not. Dig for them and write them. Gold is never sitting on the surface. Rinse. Repeat.

4

Family, friends, associates, random people you just met a few minutes ago, will ask you questions like ‘is writing a real career? Isn’t it just a hobby?’ Suddenly you’ll have to restrain yourself from an act of violence. These comments and criticisms can quickly turn the writing inspiration tap off. Don’t let them.

Outside opinions on your life, work, career, anything, matter not. If you have to repeat that to yourself muliple times a day, do so.

5

Writing a book? Odds are you won’t write a best-seller. And maybe that’s okay. Putting best-seller pressure on yourself is a quick way to stop the word faucet from flowing when you sit to write. Maybe you’d just be proud to finally finish that ambitious project you’ve dreamed of penning for years. It’ll be a major confidence booster if nothing else. It may also inspire you to do it all over again. Or not. Either way, it’ll make a great party conversation piece, anyway. Wallow in the author-glory.

6

You don’t have to write every day. Shocking, I know! Many people sell this idea that in order to produce a body of work, you must write every day. Hogwash, I say (always wanted to write that).

Unless you’ve signed a contract that demands it or you’ve put that pressure on yourself to meet a tight deadline. Otherwise, you can write once a week for 20 minutes if that’s all the time you have, or if that feels best. Setting a routine, getting a rhythm going, is more important than the weekly volume of your writing, particularly if you struggle to find time to write every day.

7

You are and will always be your harshest critic. Don’t discard any writing before sharing it with someone. Make sure that someone is a person whose writing judgment you trust and respect. Also, save what you’ve written. A notebook, a word document. Whatever you choose. Hit save. One day you may come back to it with new eyes and a renewed appreciation for your voice. What sounds terrible one day, sits well with you another. Don’t. discard. your. writing.

8

Inner silence is your non-negotiable writing tool. Outer silence is good, too. But there are times when I’ve written in crowded rooms, with people in the background, and noise. A ton of noise. For some of us, noise is unavoidable. Thus the importance of inner silence. It is through mind-silence that your words are born. You cannot write with a noisy mind. You’ll be distracted and jump from one thing to the next, without clarity of thought. Find your silence, your flow, your zone.

Over the years, I’ve found things that help quiet the mind chatter. Meditation is my #1 tool. Find yours and keep practicing it. You’ll get to the point where stepping into your (inner) quiet zone becomes easier. Never easy. But easier.

9

Here’s one for fellow bloggers. You’ll like this one: every blog post doesn’t have to be >1500 words (or whatever the current trend is). This goes against the grain of the SEO gods, perhaps. While SEO isn’t all bad, always remember, you write for humans, not algorithms.

Humans first, algorithms second. Write the amount that needs to be written for that blog post.

If the mere thought of writing epic posts puts a freeze on your writing brain, don’t do that to yourself. Write the amount that needs to be written for that post. Then. Move. On. (remember you can always come back and add, even after a blog post is published.)

There are some posts that will need longer content, but to drag out a post to reach a word count will feel painful (for you and your readers).

10

You have to start writing from the beginning. Or do you?

If you’re writing a blog post, article, book and you’re blocked right from the start, skip ahead. Try writing a middle section or skip all the way to the end and write the conclusion. You can always come back to the introduction once you get going. The key, again, is to get going.

Writing often feels hard. Sometimes even terrifying. Some things will make it feel easier but there’ll always be those I-don’t-feel-like-writing (or doing anything) days. When those happen, check out my post on dealing with the times when you’re overwhelmed or unmotivated.

And even on those days when writing feels hard, do it anyway. Because you can. Because you must. If you’ve read this far, you definitely must.

I’m sure there are many more truths to help push you through writer’s block and nudge you to stick with your writing projects. Some of these will feel more or less true for you than others.

The first step is finding strategies and motivators that work for you to get over the challenges of writing. The second step is to apply what works and, well, get on with it. Write.

And then write some more!

-Alicia-Joy

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Filed under: breaking the code, engaging web content, writing encouragement inspiration, writing habits

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