Reader Friday: Obstacles to Writing

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So what obstacles to writing do you find yourself running up against? 

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10 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Obstacles to Writing

  1. Time. Boring day jobs.

    It’s no problem *writing* in small snatches of time wherever I can get 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there. But I simply can’t do my novel planning & research in tiny chunks of time.

    And boring day jobs. I have read with admiration both here and in my own reading about wonderfully prolific writers who did really dull jobs by day and were prolific writers by night (or whenever). MOST of the time I can overcome this but I find dull day jobs can be a total creativity killer, whether it be writing or visual art. Once you’ve had your brained sawed off by the monotony of dull work, it’s hard to reach back into the sludge left in your brain and find the creativity cells.

    However, I did just finish reading Daniel Pink’s “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” where he talks about our peaks & troughs of energy. We’ve all heard that before. What I found interesting though, is his distinction that for ‘logic’ related activity, you do that during your peak time, but for intuition/creativity, you do it in/near your troughs of energy.

    I tried this last night in drawing class. My class starts after I’ve already been awake for 15 hours–not my best to say the least. And right now we’re doing boring still life drawings. But I applied the principle, sat down on the bench, and tackled the assignment I didn’t want to do. And made very slow but steady progress.

    All that yammering to say, Pink’s point can be seen the same as a traditional piece of writing advice, only tweaked: “Sit butt in chair and write–but do it when you’re too tired to put up resistance.”

    Won’t work for everybody, but it might work for me.

  2. Obstacles to writing? Not many other than the usual “life stuff” that takes me away from the house/computer. Errands, meetings, cooking dinner, yoga classes, hair appointments, dog interruptions. (OK, and an off-the-grid trip to the Galapagos, but SO worth it.)

    Obstacles to GOOD writing? Self-doubt. Haven’t I already written this book? How can I be sure it’s going to be better than the last one? What I wrote today is crap. My word count is getting smaller, not bigger. I’ll never finish this monstrosity. My hero is a “happy man in happy land.” Am I hitting the right plot points at the right place? Does my dialogue work? Is my pacing too slow?

    Some days, I think this was all so much easier when I wasn’t published, had no dreams of being published, didn’t know any “rules” and just played with my characters. Now I worry that I need to wait for Act 2 for a “Pet the Dog” scene and what if there’s no good reason to bring the “dog” in at that point?

  3. I agree with Terry. Other than necessary things that are outside our control, I have no real obstacles.

    I recently enjoyed two day-long visits about a week apart with old friends whom I hadn’t seen in a very long time. So naturally, their visits took priority over my writing.

    But I realized that even as we visited, my WIP was in the back of my mind, percolating.

    So even those visits weren’t obstacles to writing. The story was still there, the words that created them ongoing. I just didn’t commit them to the page until after the visits were over and the friends gone.

    And the same thing happens when those “necessary” things come up. When they end, I go right back to the WIP.

  4. Like Terry, my daily schedule is scrambled with a lot of “life stuff” that gets in the way of writing: errands, classes, chores, service projects, friends. And then there’s the classic: checking email.

    But I also suffer from that old confidence-destroying demon: fear. What if it’s no good? What if I fail? Creative paralysis ensues. That’s when I go for a run, listen to a good audio book or one of JSB’s Great Courses lectures, and get the blood pumping into my brain again.

  5. This one is for the ladies…Hormones!!

    I thought the teenage years were bad, but the midlife hormones are killer. I swear there is a good 10 days during the month when the hormone rollercoaster kills my productivity and creativity and makes me stupid.

  6. Chronic disease can sap even mental energy, and really screws with the writer’s most important tool – the brain. All you can do is work when you can.

  7. For me, it’s either outside forces like family emergencies or taking care of the day to day requirements of living. Okay, and there might be a little bit of a focus and self discipline problem. I find it difficult to see one project through to the end before jumping into another one. Ideas move quickly in and out of my brain. When one hits, I feel the need to commit it to paper (or computer) before it vanishes into the ether.

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