This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. Today’s post is part of the chapter on Discovering Your Writing Fears and Barriers.
So far we’ve been looking at writing fears. There are still two more posts to come that cover beliefs which cause barriers in our writing life. However, because I sometimes write out of order, today I’m posting the end of this chapter while still working on the other two posts.
Creating a Rescue Plan
Now you’ve seen some of the causes of writing fears and barriers, and how you can overcome each problem with a change in thinking or in writing habits. Does that mean that after you’ve read this chapter you should never face a writing fear or barrier ever again?
Fear is your body’s natural protective mechanism and there will always be things that trigger it. This is the way we are designed.
Just about all writers will face problems in their writing life. The fears and barriers they face will change with each new project or phase of the project.
Aiming to eradicate fear from your life will only lead to a constant battle. Instead, think of the process as a dance – where the fear appears and you find a way to gracefully sidestep it each time.
Knowing there will be times when fears or barriers arise means you can prepare for them. The following three step plan will help you to:
- Notice when a fear or barrier is starting to impact on your writing,
- Understand the root cause of the problem, and
- Find a way to sidestep the issue so you can continue your productive writing life.
Step 1: Identify Warning Signs
Before your writing completely halts in ‘writer’s block’ there are usually warning signs. Your warning signs are unique to you. They may include:
- A drop in writing output. You may find you word count slowing. Your writing may feel sluggish and anemic.
- Increased frustration. You may encounter difficulties in your plot or inconsistencies with your characters.
- Excuses for not writing. Other tasks in your life may seem to take on added importance. You may find you’re more interested in cleaning the grout in your shower than you are in your novel.
- A dread of the page. What started out as a fun story idea my gradually turn into a weight on your mind. You lose your excitement for your project.
- A shiny, new idea. Funnily enough, finding yourself excited by a new idea can often be a warning sign that things with your current project are not going well. Your mind may be trying to distract you from the fear you’re facing.
These may be subtle signs at first, but they indicate a deeper problem – a problem you need to address. The sooner you can do something about the fear or barrier you’re facing, the sooner you can move on with your writing.
Step 2: Get the Problem Down on Paper
Noting the warning signs may not reveal what the problem really is. For that, you’ll need to dig a little deeper.
The best way to find out the problem you’re facing is to freewrite. Sit yourself down in front of the page and pour your thoughts out. Write about:
- How you’re feeling about your writing project.
- What are the next steps on your project?
- How do you plan to move forward on this project?
- Are there any aspects of this project that you’re not sure about?
This process is like massaging a tense shoulder. Gradually the muscle will soften a little and reveal a knot of tension. Once you’ve discovered that knot, you can work on it.
Step 3: Find a Solution
Once you’ve found out what your problem is, then you can work towards implementing a solution.
You might be able to use some of the suggestions mentioned earlier in the chapter, or you might need to come up with a solution unique to your situation. If you’re not sure of what to do, turn to someone in your support structure (perhaps a fellow writer or a writing mentor) to brainstorm suggestions.
Don’t sit back and let the fear paralyze you. Get working on a solution.
Add your comment below. What are your warning signs?
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