Even though I have been writing and journaling consistently since I was eight years old, I still have problems with writer’s block. Take today, for example. I want to write this post but have been staring at my computer screen for almost an hour, trying to figure out what to write next.
Writer’s block never really goes away, for me anyway, and it can happen for any number of reasons. Typically, I find that writer’s block results from allowing external opinions or circumstances interfere with our writing practice.
This is a lesson I have had to learn over and over again, starting most memorably fifteen years ago when I decided to put writing first after finding inspiration and my voice while completing Julia Cameron’s creative unblocking course The Artist’s Way. The course was a revelation to me, and I got serious about my craft as a fiction writer and poet and applied to MFA programs in creative writing. I didn’t get accepted. I was devastated. I stopped writing for awhile but eventually took a creative writing course at my local community college and found the will to continue.
After working consistently on my craft for another three years, I got accepted to the MFA program at Columbia College in Chicago. I was ecstatic! FINALLY, I was going to earn the terminal degree that told the world I was a writer. The only problem? It didn’t work out.
Okay, I admit it: I am writing this blog post for myself today, just as much as I am writing it for all of you, my lovely audience. Why? Because even though I have made a career out of writing, there are still plenty of days when I doubt my own abilities and talents, and I recognize the need to talk myself back into what I know, based on the hard lessons about writing and life that I need to learn and re-learn.
Sometimes writing is fun, but anyone who writes on a regular basis also knows that it can be difficult, even when we’re excited about our particular writing project.
For me, two of the biggest problems when I’m writing a novel are avoiding boredom and staying focused. The issues are a bit counter intuitive since each requires a different solution. After years if experimenting, I started to pay attention to what specifically worked well for me, and so today I am going to share with you the best tips I know for how to stay focused when writing. Continue reading “5 Tips on How to Stay Focused When Writing a Novel”
As writers and artists, we often make things harder on ourselves than we need to and allow distractions to interfere with our writing and our art. There are, however, legitimate times in our lives when we have serious concerns or matters to attend to that draw our energy and attention away from our creative pursuits. At some point, though, it is important to recognize when we have allowed ourselves to stray too far from creating the work that is in integrity with who we are.
In some ways, I feel like my 30’s were my lost years. By the time I was in my early thirties, I had completed my graduate degree in creative writing and lost my father to cancer. Both events had a profound effect on my writing life for longer than was necessary. In an attempt to clear some current resistance I have with progressing with my novel and help those of you who are encountering similar difficulties, I am, today, sharing my writer’s regrets. Continue reading “One Writer’s Regrets”