Author Topic: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block  (Read 9633 times)

Offline Nick

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Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« on: July 18, 2007, 05:13:53 AM »
At the suggestion of Praetorian (James), please use this thread to post your suggestions for beating writer's block/procrastination.

Nick  :)
Check out my writing blog at www.entrepreneurwriter.net. I also have a new UK personal finance blog called Pounds and Sense.

Offline Hmmm

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Re: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2007, 07:22:15 PM »
My first suggestions are in The Writers Circle, topic: procrastination.

http://www.mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=9815.msg93847#msg93847

Slightly off-topic, just in case anyone's confused about the different names I use, I write under a pen name. I typically use my pen name for fiction and my real name for journalism, interviews and non-fiction. Just in case my fiction books make it out there, look out for Wyatt J. Gibson. :)

-- Praetorian
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Offline fordy

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Re: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2007, 07:42:59 PM »
OK, dumb question time ... what is writer's block?

What I mean is; I know what writer's block is for me, but what is it for you?  Your writer's block might not be mine - the writer's block I have today may not be the same writer's block I have tomorrow.  If we can't define what writer's block is, it becomes awfully difficult to find a solution.

For example, I have seen people use the term 'writer's block' to describe ...
  • I am stuck in my story and don't know how to continue it
  • I have become bored / disinterested with my story and don't want to carry on
  • I have come to hate the characters in my story and don't want to write about them
  • My mind won't focus on the writing task and I am writing drivel
  • I can't stand the thought of sitting down with a blank sheet of paper / computer screen
  • I keep finding other things to do (procrastination)
  • ...

So, what sort of writer's block are you suffering from?
If I always do what I always did, I'll always get what I always got.

thatollie

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Re: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2007, 09:06:31 PM »
Fordy, I'm writing drivel.

Offline fordy

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Re: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2007, 09:40:26 PM »
Fordy, I'm writing drivel.

Join the club. Oh, you already have  ;)

But at least you are writing and there are really only two ways to go from there:
  • Keep writing until it gets better, but you had better let other people be the judge; I often think I write drivel but sometimes others have a different perspective (it's interesting drivel :D)
  • Stop writing and do something else (reading?) or perhaps get away from words altogether and go climb a mountain - especially if its writing fatigue.
If I always do what I always did, I'll always get what I always got.

thatollie

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Re: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2007, 07:58:34 AM »
Gentlemen, I think I may take a few days to lie in the shade. Bye.

Offline Hmmm

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Re: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2007, 03:05:34 AM »
For me, I just can't seem to get much out in the way I want it. My problem is perfectionism to a fault. It's as if I'm trying to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (figure of speech: I don't write literary fiction). I just have to come to some sort of compromise and be mostly happy with what I've got I think, instead of belting myself around the head because (in my mind at least) it's not absolutely perfect. The trouble is that I don't think I will ever be happy with what I've written. What am I trying to do? Write something everyone in the world will want to read? I don't know. Maybe it's just that I can see I can always do better and keep improving, so I have to keep re-writing.
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Offline fordy

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Re: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2007, 03:24:59 AM »
For me, I just can't seem to get much out in the way I want it. My problem is perfectionism to a fault. ... Maybe it's just that I can see I can always do better and keep improving, so I have to keep re-writing.

I can relate to that problem.  I have spent most of my life starting writing projects, rewriting them and then finally abandoning them because they didn't come up to scratch.  Stupot writes about "NaNoWriMo" in another post; that was what finally got me to writing a complete first draft of a book - it forced me to suspend the "inner critic" (otherwise I could never keep up the word count) so, at long last I got a complete plot down from start to finish.  Now I can spend the next ten years polishing and polishing it until ...

Actually, I wouldn't describe this perfectionism as writer's block - it's more a case of not being able to move on to the next task because the current one isn't perfect yet.  To succeed at anything we need to be prepared to fail - would you rather be known as a great writer who never finished writing a book or an average writer with a few manuscripts (probably unpublished) under their belt; but getting better each time?
If I always do what I always did, I'll always get what I always got.

Offline Hmmm

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Re: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2007, 04:09:18 AM »
To succeed at anything we need to be prepared to fail - would you rather be known as a great writer who never finished writing a book or an average writer with a few manuscripts (probably unpublished) under their belt; but getting better each time?

Thanks Fordy. I think there is also a little fear of failure, too. Not only do I love writing, but I'm on a mission to prove something.

Certainly, I want to be a great writer. I'll admit I want recognition for my work in novel writing as I've had with my journalism and technical writing. But I would, after reading your reply, rather be recognised as an excellent writer who never finished a book than a ho-hum average writer who finished books, probably unpublished, slowly getting better.
The complete works of George Orwell; books, essays, biography and more: george-orwell.org.

Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media. (Search Google and find the Wikipedia entry, and grab the DVD)

thatollie

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Re: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2007, 02:05:12 PM »
I went the whole, "edit it to death" route once. I don't think it improved my skills one bit. However, the "write and be happy with it" route has seen me improve dramatically. I'm just saying that my views and opinions differs from yours.
Have fun with the final nail, Caio.

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2007, 03:46:05 PM »
On the subject of procrastination or a 'log-jam' caused by having too many projects on the go at one time I recently decided to finish two long term projects.  I put nearly everything else on hold - even my regular newsletter has been sidelined - set a short term deadline instead of a 'someday' deadline and went for it.  It worked, but I have realised that one of the projects will benefit from some extra material which I am tackling today after a couple of semi-lazy days to recover from my short burst of efficiency.  But I wouldn't have realised how the extra stuff could slot in if I hadn't finished the original first.  I'd probably still be tinkering around the edges.

As I've said elsewhere I have the 'long slog' attitude of a distance runner in many parts of my life, but sometimes - for writing - I function best as a sprinter.

So try setting a deadline for starting and a deadline for finishing.  You may run over on the second one if you're still going strong, but stick to the first because you will never finish anything if you don't start first.  If it's a long project try breaking it into bite-sized bits.  Only you can judge the size of your 'bite' but be realistic.  There are days when a thousand well-crafted words an hour is no problem, and others when 100 could elude you.  Pick a target somewhere between your best and worst ;-)

It's worked for me just recently.  It may work for you.  It may not.  One of the great tricks of being a writer is to discover what works for you, but still be willing to try something different if it stops working.

Gyppo 
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Offline Wurdsmyth

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Re: Beating Procrastination/Writer's Block
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2007, 11:59:16 AM »
Hmm, the old writer's block thingy, huh?

I agree with Gyppo about finding out what works for you... Here's what works for me:

Read it again, Sam!
Go back over what you've written - particularly bits you're proud of. This fires your enthusiasm, reminds you that yes, you can write, actually, and helps you to get back into the flow of writing. The key is to review things, not edit them to obliteration!

Find something that inspires you.
Keep a little notebook with you and write down things that amuse you during the day - it can be anything, from overheard conversations in a coffee shop or on the bus, to amusing items on the news, to a particularly juicy sentence you've read somewhere. Then, when you're stuck for inspiration, you just have a good old read... If nothing else, it will make you smile and give you a little more perspective to the problem at hand.

Put away the big stick!
Don't be so hard on yourself - the worst thing you can do when you're stuck for ideas is beat yourself up about it. Remind yourself about why you love words in the first place - pick up your favourite book, listen to a great song or read something that inspires you. By getting back in touch with your 'first love', you will relax and be in a better position to be inspired again!

On the procrastination point - definitely set small, regular goals and stick to them. Plan a reward for each stage if you need extra incentive (nice coffee always works for me!)

Hope this helps!

Miranda x
« Last Edit: October 03, 2007, 09:18:56 AM by Wurdsmyth »
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