Stop Writing to Write Better

There are two terms writers detest. The first is, “writer’s block”. The second is. “The bar is closing.” In all seriousness, getting stuck is frustrating. Writing is a complex act. It is self-expression. Writing shares ideas and stories. Everyone has those in the head and heart. We may understand them but putting them down on paper so others do is an awesome challenge.

I believe in the power of persistence but when you get stuck, forcing writing does not always work. Determination is admirable but it often produces an inferior result. When this happens and it can imagehappen with alarming frequency, you have to step away.

Go for a hike, pick up an adult coloring book, wear out a treadmill – anything that will quiet your mind. If you stop focusing on the block often the solution will present itself. One perceived step backwards can take you two real steps forward.

Even if this does not produce an amazing epiphany that miraculously breaks the mental logjam, you will find a few threads that can be pulled. Those will invariably lead you in the right direction. The point is to walk away. You have to stop writing to write better. There are a few reasons why.

Breathe

It can be a blog, novel, annual report or poem. We pour ourselves into the words and ideas. The sentiment and emotion is draining. Just a few sentences in we have lost all objectivity. It is analogous to having a heated argument with a loved one. They have their point-of-view and we have ours. There is a natural give and take but we are not going to budge on the core bits. You have to take some time, breathe, and see it from the other side.

Read

There are about seventeen similar quotes that say the same thing that I will paraphrase here: reading imagemakes a better writer and writing makes a better reader. So stop writing and pick up a book, magazine, website, and newspaper. There is a second part to this. Whatever you read do not analyze it. Fall into it. Enjoy it. Appreciate the work of others and smile. You have joined an amazing community. They are inspiration.

Routine

Writing every day may seem like you are being productive but you are fooling yourself. Everyone takes a day or two off from work, so why not writing? By all means, write six days a week if it is working for you but take one day off. You don’t have to make it Sunday or Wednesday. Be intuitive. Make it the day when writing isn’t working for you. Avoid a routine and senseless writing at all costs.

Vacation

Writing is an involved career. If you are like me, it does not magically or simply leave your mind. I am always conceptualizing a plot or plotting a client’s brand and marketing strategy. I contextualize the world based on what I am writing. Observations from daily events are sorted and evaluated by how they may factor into my writing. I am always on. Yet, that is not sustainable. I have to take my own imageadvice here but writers need a cold turkey vacation. Turn it off. Walk away.

Therapy

I will share a little known insider secret about writing. Every writer, writes as a form of therapy. Now imagine being in therapy every day. Is that really therapeutic? No way. Sometimes we have to step away for more than a day or a vacation. This doesn’t mean you’re not a writer, and it doesn’t mean you’ll never come back to writing. It means you are perfecting your skills. Take whatever time is needed.

Summing Up

You know why I wrote this? You got it. I was stumped. I was in the middle of a third rewrite of a book and it was weighing on me. Then I came across a quote from Charles Bukowski. He was a prolific guy who hit his own roadblocks. Bukowski said, “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.” Let’s all appreciate the irony and get something out of this. Take a break and then write on.

 

2 replies
  1. AKA Don Heller
    AKA Don Heller says:

    Hello and thank you!

    I came across this blog on Flipboard and am so pleased I did. It was February 29th and I was facing an imperious deadline from my publisher. My first book had done well. Extremely well, in fact. That had put enormous pressure on my second book.

    Unfortunately, I was more than stuck. I had given up. Worse. I was drinking too much and driving my loved ones away. This was over a period of six months. So I, as I guess you, searched for an answer. You seemed to have found it in writing about writer’s block. I found it in what you wrote.

    You told me to read and not to analyze. You said, we were members of an amazing community. You wrote, find inspiration in others.

    Well, I found inspiration in you. I am enjoying writing again. I know I have something to share and say. It is not all sunshine and lollipops but there is a new light and sweetness. So thank you Mr. Swystun for all of this.

    With kind personal regards,

    Don Heller…ghostwriter for bestselling authors.

    Reply

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