We've all heard of "Writers Block". It's frustrating, depressing and discouraging. It's usually defined as a temporary period when a writer cannot write. For most people, one of the major symptoms is a blank mind. You want to write, your schedule has been cleared to write, you sit with the intention to write, then... your mind goes blank. No words, no thoughts, no prompts, enter your head.
As tragic as that sounds, a few of us, have a different obstacle when it comes to writing. I refer to this ailment as "Writers Chunk". When you suffer from writers chunk, ideas are not the problem, doing something about it is. The easiest way to detect if you have a chunk versus a block is you still have ideas. You can visualize what your character is wearing, you can hear what he or she is thinking. You may even be thinking two or three chapters down the road. So, if you have all these wonderful ideas, why aren't you doing something about it?
Procrastination has killed more dreams than all wars, diseases, and handicaps combined. It starts simple enough. What is that part of a wagon called? Time for Google, oops, not a kid's wagon... I want a western wagon. OK, covered wagon does make more sense. History of the covered wagon? No, I want parts of a wagon. Two and half hours later you have dozens of pictures, videos and even a DIY blueprint of how to build your own covered wagon, but you haven't written a word.
That's only one example of course, but you can also procrastinate writing until after you go to lunch, or go to the gym, or change your clothes. If you are not writing like you want, to it could be as simple as everything else keeps becoming a priority. The solution is not buying another book on writing or taking another writing course or looking for motivational speakers on YouTube. The answer is writing. Now before you get all ticked off and say, "duh, if I could do that I wouldn't have a problem", let me clarify that statement.
The answer to writers block AND writers chunk is to form the habit of writing. This can be done in four easy steps.
The first step - set a time. When all my kids were still at home I realized if I wanted to do anything for myself the best time was to do it before they woke up. What works for me, may not work for you, but to create this new habit you must establish a set time, one with the least amount of excuses for you to do anything else.
The second step - establish a word count. This might sound like you are limiting yourself, but this is a starting point. When I tried NaNoWriMo camp for the first time I set a daily goal of a thousand words per day. I did ok for a couple of days, then I only did 500 words one day, then I skipped a couple of days. Eventually, I wrote 250 words and thought "what's the point, I'll never catch up."
If procrastination is the number one killer of writers inspiration, the second greatest evil to avoid is depression and discouragement.
It took me a while to figure this out, but even at only 250 words per day, that's still a page per day or 365 pages per year. My last book, once edited, was only 285 pages. Meaning I can still edit almost a third of my work later. The point is don't set your goals on what Stephen King can do, make your words count. (No pun intended.) Once you have the habit you can always raise your target later.
The third step - learning to write. The other bad habit myself and many others share is the tendency to edit as I write. For creating this habit - do NOT edit! If I write 250 words and edit as I'm writing, I may only end up with 140 additional words. I'm making the goal twice as hard as it needs to be and I'm setting myself up for failure. Related to that, when you do write 250 words, give yourself a treat. To avoid diabetes, I suggest it be something besides food. Even if you only meet part of your word count, something is better than nothing. Give yourself credit for everything you achieve. Save "editing" for a different habit.
The fourth step - repeat with praise. Now you're going write an easy 250 words per day (no stress), you get up early, say 7:00 am (or whatever works for you), and... you give yourself credit. Ideally, you want to do this habit for at least 30 days, but if you can only do it Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays that's still a plus. The key here is to acknowledge what you achieve, not focus on what you don't. Let your new habits work for you not against you.
Napoleon Hill once said, "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." Everybody has good habits and bad habits. To be a better writer you must believe you can write every day. Like a concert pianist, once you form the habit you don't have to think about which note to play next, you just do it. If you could sit down and write every day, every time you wanted, just imagine the possibilities.
Award-winning writer/photographer Tedric Garrison has 40 years experience with these creative skills. As a Graphic Arts Major, he has a unique perspective on visual arts and believes that creativity CAN be taught. His photography tells a story and his writing is very visual. Tedric shares his insight and perspective at http://writephotos.weebly.com
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