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Facing Writing Challenges

July 22nd, 2010 No comments

Every writer encounters times when they aren’t eager to write. It’s a difficult reminder that the creative writing process isn’t mere automatic scribbling (hopefully, anyway), but a thought-out presentation of ideas which often define or describe a theme or story. In other words, writing is hard. And some days (or minutes, weeks, months… whatever) you simply don’t feel like writing. It’s only natural – but it’s also the time when you should push yourself the most to write, since small interruptions in writing almost always turn into greater delays… if not outright halts.

Some refer to it as ‘writer’s block.’ Much as an experienced runner will ‘hit the wall’ but continue running despite physical adversity, devoted writers who experience challenges in their productivity because their creative juices aren’t flowing should write their way out of the problem  by continuing to create, since the mental writing ‘muscle’ is always best kept active. Many screenwriters and novelists I know often use an old writers’ trick of skipping ahead (or backwards) in their tale to change-up their creative flow and offer some variety in their duties; even though these ‘diversions’ often end up left out of the finished work, the very act of continuing to tell the tale aids the writer to get back on track story-wise (and in terms of productivity as well).

While the writer’s work is often a solitary pursuit, having a writing partner can help sustain productivity, especially if partners complement one another in terms of output. Writing partners may meet to discuss a story, then write their own material separately, which they later refine and reconcile; other partners designate one writer as a ‘rough draft’ scribe and the other partner as the ‘edit and polish’ contributor. There are many kinds of working arrangements between writing partners, but the bottom line is that only you know what arrangement works best in your case.

Don’t let a writing challenge stop you from writing. If you feel you need a brief break, take a walk, visit a museum, see a movie. But – and this is key – afterwards you must return to writing. Because if you consider yourself a scribe, a bard, an ink-stained wretch or whatever it is you call a writer, you don’t want to write – you NEED to.