Writing stalled? Try this . . .

images-2 Your day has been derailed. You’re unmotivated. You’ve lost focus. You can’t concentrate. You would rather do the laundry, wash the car, or file your back taxes. Most writers have days when writing is near impossible. We have weeks when the stars refuse to align, forces conspire against us, and ideas that once seemed brilliant have lost their sparkle. At these times, my friend, you have two choices: give up and quit or do what I do: “DIS” yourself. “DISSING” oneself is an action plan that propels you in the right direction. It’s my way of pushing everything out of the way and making writing a top priority. It is done in three simple steps. Simple, however, does not mean easy, but in my experience, if one is serious about writing they have to do it. Here’s how:

#1: DISAPPEAR – get out of the house or wherever you might be where distractions pop up like gophers on a golf course. With four dogs, two sons, a rat in my attic, and housework up to my armpits, I escape to my local library. Don’t have a library nearby? Go to a Starbucks, a neighbor’s apartment, a hotel lobby, a corner in your garage. One of my friends turned a backyard shed into her writing hideaway with nothing more than a used desk, folding chair, and an extra long extension cord. Can’t leave the house because you don’t have a laptop or portable writing device? Get paper and pen. Pretty sure that’s how Shakespeare did it.

#2: DISCONNECT – Thanks to technology, we are constantly connected. There’s not a moment in the day when we cannot call, text, or instagram. Whenever the urge strikes us we can post, poke, or pin. We waste time shopping, playing, and socially networking. For me, the Internet is the mother of all rabbit holes. It eats up time like Pac-man eats dots (yes, I remember the 80’s). It is a panoply of distractions. No doubt, disconnecting is hard. There’s even a diagnosis for those who can’t do it – Internet Addition Disorder. But regardless of whether you are clinically addicted to devices or just dependent and clingy, you must wean yourself and refuse to panic when your connection to the outside world is severed. After a few weeks of practice, it even starts to feel good, liberating and relaxing, like taking a walk or playing with puppies or arranging flowers. Disconnecting gives you control of your time and frees your imagination to dream and create.

#3: DISENGAGE – This one is tough. We must identify and deal with the people in our lives who hinder us – friends who make us feel guilty because we aren’t available for lunch or drinks after work; family members who think writing is just a hobby or even a waste of time; buddies who tell us we “just aren’t fun anymore.” While it’s nice to know you are missed or wanted, you cannot allow yourself to be sidetracked by those who, unintentionally or not, hold you back. Relax – I’m not suggesting you cut all ties with these naysayers. Sometimes it just requires a stronger backbone or a bit of clever avoidance. Got a friend who urges you to ditch writing to go shopping or surfing or whatever? Plan dates with that friend ahead of time so that you don’t get sidetracked by last minute requests or pressured into postponing your writing time. If you just can’t say no, then don’t answer the call. Feel you have to respond to the message? Send a text with a good excuse. Make something up if you have to. After all, you are a writer! Do you have a relative who doesn’t take your writing seriously? Quit talking to them about it. Family members should be blown away by your commitment to writing. And if they are not putting you on a pedestal, they at least should be supportive. But if they aren’t, limit your conversations to sports, weather, and who’s hosting Thanksgiving.

Now that you know how to “DIS” yourself, go do it!

Who or what interferes with your ability to write? What tricks do you employ to get writing to the top of the list?

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2 Comments

Filed under Julie Brown

2 responses to “Writing stalled? Try this . . .

  1. You’ve inspired me! Tomorrow, I’ll go to a world-class destination Inn & Spa in my town. There are indoor lounges with fountains or fireplace, and outdoor lounging areas in the midst of gardens and pools. Walking in is free and best of all, no one will know me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dolores Davis

    Writer’s Block? My days are often interrupted by my desire to write. Errands are left undone, dishes and laundry can pile up and eating at the computer, where I write, can be a hazard. There is nothing I would rather do than write. And this is from someone who used to run a cooking school, daily teaching students that were hungry to learn and eat, as well as listen to me. Then, I thought that was my calling.

    But some years ago, when I began the solo craft of writing I found no further need to apply myself elsewhere. As a matter of fact, I could use a little dissing as my able writing friend, Julie Brown, so cleverly describes her writing when it’s stalled. Instead, I rush through morning dish washing, put the timer on my phone to remind me to move washing to the dryer, and do as much online ordering as possible to eliminate errands.

    Seated for hours, my legs will become stiff, my eyes tire and my neck becomes sore, yet I plow forward. The fact is, that after I established a reasonable understanding of the ‘Hero’s Journey,’ (originally by Joseph Campbell and most recently by Christopher Vogler), and use their outline to cast my stories, I’m off and running – can’t stop.

    Julie Brown speaks of using free time to dream and create. If only there was enough time for me to write all that I am mentally conquering and creating. I think I must write prodigiously because I have so many settings and plots in my head to release.

    That is not to say that I don’t rewrite, of course I do. I haven’t always put down my concepts correctly the first time.

    I have thought much about the fact that plot,characters, and setting come quick to me, and have decided that the telling of the tale is where I need to work, so that’s how I proceed.

    I believe that is why I so appreciate a good grammarian, a keen speller and a polished editor to critique me. So, you’ll often find me, derriere to chair, a snack close by pecking away…

    Liked by 1 person

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