Tag Archives: writer’s block

My First Writing Competition

In working through some of my blog posts in the last years, there have been times when I would look at a final draft of a post and then think to myself that it was pretty good, but for some reason it didn’t quite fit with the overall theme of my blog. Rather than rethink the piece, I would just put it on the shelf and maybe the right time and place to post it would find me.

A few months ago, such an opportunity presented itself when I started receiving emails about the annual Writer’s Digest Short Story Writing Competition. I thought that this might be an opportunity to pick up one of those shelved stories and fine-tune it for the purposes of the competition.

With that decision made, in the days that followed, it was with great enthusiasm that I would come home from work, speed through dinner and rush to my desk to chip away at the story, several times per week. The writing competition definitely stoked my enthusiasm for writing again.

While I have never had delusions of grandeur about my skills as a writer, confidence was running high as the themes of the story were current, relevant and would definitely resonate with certain readers. To achieve that, I dug deeply (veeeeeeryy deeeeeeeply) for the material, breaking open some old wounds. Continue reading

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When a Writer Gets Cold Feet

Aside from writer’s block, could there be a worse feeling than a sudden bout of analysis paralysis over hitting the “Enter” button to send or publish a written work?

Over the course of 204 blog posts, I am very fortunate in that it has not happened often, but it does… and it freaks me out each time!

When I published my first few blog posts back in 2013, I think it was perfectly understandable to take a moment …or two …or three to think twice before hitting “Publish” in my WordPress application as I was sending my work on the World Wide Web to be seen and read by anybody with a computer and a connection.

Does my post say anything that might inadvertently rub someone the wrong way? Could something be taken out of context or misconstrued? Could a blog post cast a negative light on anyone or anything, even if I went to great pains to ensure it did not? Will it generate any negative mail?

It’s a lot of pressure to take in as a new blogger, more so than the idea “will anyone read it?” Frankly if the latter was my problem, there would be little pressure.

But over time, as my written works were met with a warm reception, kind comments and a generous spirit of encouragement from readers and fellow writers, the pressure mostly passed.

But when I write a piece, especially one that has been incubating in my mind and on paper for several days, weeks or even months, why is it only when I am about to hit Enter (or even worse, shortly thereafter) that I get cold feet? Continue reading

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The Art of Suspending Judgement during the First Draft

typewritersIf there is one thing that puts me in a writing “analysis paralysis”, it’s to be editing a first draft at the same time as I am writing it. What seems to work for me is to metaphorically send the “editor” part of my brain away to another room in the house and to let the creative writer in me just do his thing.

The first draft is that time when I feel completely free, knowing that the incompatible elements will drop off later if they are not meant to be. But the critical first step is to get those ideas on paper and to not break the flow.

Even in business, suspending judgement is a key ground rule for a great brainstorming session. In writing, I like to think that this translates to leaving the editor’s hat alone until a solid foundation of ideas is established.

Only then is it realistic to determine whether ideas are viable, to rearrange the order in which the ideas are presented and finding the best ways to articulate them.

Viability of ideas

With my blog, there have been times that I thought I had a dynamite idea for a blog topic, but after a few writing sessions, I found out that the idea lost momentum or fizzled out after 300 words. Most times, I would park it to see if other ideas might hit me later, but when they don’t, it may just end up in the graveyard of blog posts. The topic still seemed like a good idea in my head, but after trying to work through it on paper, it didn’t quite make it. Continue reading

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Can a Writer’s Voice Get Sick Too?

TissuesLast week, I was home with a cold. It wasn’t anything major, just a head cold that knocked me off my feet, gave me a pounding headache, kept me under the covers, and had me breathing through half of one nostril.

Even when my first priority is to get better, I can’t help but think that with the extra free time on my hands, it would be a great time to write. But I can’t. When I am feeling under the weather, words just don’t come.

Maybe it’s related to the fact that my oxygen supply is not at full capacity, or that my ears are affected and that I could potentially throw up at any given moment… it’s a little distracting.

But over the last 3 years of writing the blog, I have noticed that if I want to keep to a posting schedule of at least one or two works per week, I need to keep a few drafts in my back pocket for times like this.

The worst was when I was out with shingles for several weeks. I remember trying desperately to commit words to paper, but everything I wrote was disjointed, disconnected and frankly wasn’t up to my usual style or standards. Continue reading

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Top 10 Solutions for “Literary Constipation”

When I launched the blog in October 2013, I admit there was a bit of apprehension in terms of putting my works in the public domain. The apprehension did not come from the content itself, I was proud of my work and really looking forward to rolling my sleeves up and starting my work as a blogger. What concerned me was the ability to keep at it and to keep posting consistently without sacrificing quality.

How’s that for a little pressure for a new blogger?

But I was lucky in never really suffering from writer’s block in the 18 months since the launch. The more I wrote for the blog, the more I tapped into the inspiration I drew from the events around me, and in turn, the more I was trying to keep up with the flood of ideas that kept coming to me. And they still do.

However I have been experiencing a little bit of “irregularity” of words: the words are still coming, the ideas for stories keep coming and my inventory of blog posts in “first draft” is still growing. My challenge lately seems to be in taking a post and finding the right words to finish it and nail it like a gymnast dismounting from the balance beam for a “10.0”.

The passion is still there; the fire is still there; I still need to write as much as I need to eat, sleep and breathe. It is perhaps just a minor case of “literary constipation”. I just need to dig into my arsenal of solutions to keep it fresh, keep the momentum going and to keep coming back to my passion for writing with a fresh pair of eyes.

Here are my top 10 solutions for literary constipation:

10. Are you physically comfortable?
Are you hungry? Are you dehydrated? Are you too warm? Are you too cold? Is your chair comfortable? Distractions in our physical world can also create distractions in our creative world. Take a moment to take stock and adjust accordingly.

9. Switch your background music/silence
In some cases, I found that just changing my background music can help bring on a creative spurt. Sometimes, turning the music off and just writing to ambient noises (birds chirping, falling rain) or writing in complete silence can help the creative process. Switch it up. Continue reading

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