Who doesn’t hate roadblocks? Every day you travel the same road. Then suddenly, you’re asked to take an unfamiliar road and then another. It slows you down. In writing, we can hit roadblocks too. Often we can’t move forward without discerning what the roadblock is. If you find yourself in uncharted territory or suddenly a bit turned around, you might be asking yourself:
Why am I not writing? Why am I not taking that next step? What’s holding me back?
I’ve pinpointed three things that sometimes slow all of us down. Alongside them are some ways to get unstuck, push beyond them, and hit the next level in your writing journey.
Sometimes writing is (not) wonderfully exciting
When words fall to the page during a deluge of brainstorming brilliance, writing is fun. When you’re finding it hard to rub seven words together and spark a coherent sentence, you wonder if you have any communication skills at all. It’s not always amusing; but if you’re stretching toward a goal, exhilaration is waiting for you just out of reach. What can you do to get to it?
2) Learn new words and read current news.
3) Read a writing book or read a few chapters of fiction.
Set a goal to write a amount of words per day or practice writing for uninterrupted 20-minute periods. You’ll be surprised at what you accomplish. Breaking a task into smaller bites helps it seem less overwhelming. Keep persevering daily. You will find yourself further along at the end of the month than you were at the beginning. This has worked for me.
“You fail only if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury
Written communication is harder
Even communicating on the phone is easier because you can hear a person’s voice. When it comes to writing, you have even less to work with. Many people will tell you to write just like you speak. This is not completely true. You have to write with your voice; except you have 3 “handicaps” in writing:
1) Your hands are tied behind your back.
2) You don’t have facial expression.
3) Your reader’s is deaf. They can’t hear your inflection or emotions.
If you write exactly the way you talk, you’ll lose a lot. Certain things aren’t needed in a personal conversation. When writing, your reader can’t see your wide-eyed expression of fear or your flailing arms conveying excitement. You won’t be there to explain or elaborate. Your words must do all the work. You have to write like you speak–only enhanced.
Getting your vision written in such a way that others see what you see is a skill worth honing and one that will also serve you well in other endeavors.
I’m finished….now what?
It is fun working on something; to tell your friends you’re writing. There is excitement in the journey, but if you finish, you might have to actually show it to the client, share it on your blog, or send it off to the editor or publisher. It’s ok. We all have this fear, but keep it in perspective. Fear is what we see when we take our eyes off the finish line. You can overcome your fears if the goals you set are bigger and more defined. Here are some positives on finishing.
1) If you complete your piece, then it has a purpose and you can start on something else
(Yes, start the whole dang process over again.)
2) You can truly call yourself a writer. (I once heard it said, “There is a name for writers who don’t finish anything – readers.”)
It is worth the focused drive it takes to get past your writing roadblocks. There is value in the extra effort it takes to communicate with the written word and it’s worth the rewards to finish what you start.
What are you trying to finish?