I would rather be writing something else.
I have a handful of unfinished shorts stories and a couple of finished ones that need edits. I would rather be writing those, but this is what I’m writing right now.
That doesn’t seem like an important detail. Like, so what. People work on the thing they don’t want to work on all the time. Maybe most of the time. That isn’t the point I’m driving toward. That’s a bigger problem, and one that I certainly won’t be able to tackle in a few hundred words. What I am going to attempt to touch on, is writers block. Or the illusion of writers block. Or dealing with it when it happens.
So, I will state up front here that I don’t think writers block is a real thing. Like, there is no point where you simply can’t get words out of the tips of your fingers, or whatever. The term ‘writers block’ is an inelegant blanket that covers a lot of subtler, but potentially more addressable, issues. I never have writers block. I have spent a lot of time not writing the thing I want to write, and I have spent a lot of time not advancing my writing. Sometimes the right words are just tough to dig up.
I think there are a lot of reasons that people aren’t able to write. Most of them come down to either expectations, or writing the wrong thing. Sometimes those are the same.
So, what am I talking about here. Well, first you have expectations. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, wants to write perfectly the first time. Every person who has ever written anything knows that the best work comes out of editing, maybe many rounds of editing. It doesn’t matter. Everyone wants to write the absolute perfect words in the absolute perfect order the first time. Suppressing the voice in your head that tells you this time it will be different, this time you will write perfectly the first time, takes practice. And time. And even then it won’t work. You will always hope you can write perfectly the first time. It will never, ever happen. Getting used to that is a huge step in the direction of living without ‘writers block’. Knowing that you will have more than one chance to get it right, that getting it right will take many rounds of editing, gives you the freedom to write poorly. Or well. It gives you the freedom to just write and figure it out later.
The second problem is sort of related to the first. Sometimes people just write the wrong thing. Not the wrong words, not the wrong content. Sometimes people feel like they have to write the part that they don’t want to deal with. The busy-work of writing. The ‘get you from here to there’ scenes or sections. This is usually because you got bogged down in the ‘Writing it properly the first time’ trap. You have started to think that there are parts you must write, even though they don’t interest you. There is an incredibly simple solution to this problem.
Don’t write that. Move on to a scene you want to write. Something interesting. Something exciting, or frightening, or powerful, or inspiring. Any of the things that you really want to write. Sticking all of those good parts together is a problem for ‘editing’ you. And ‘editing’ you will have a way easier time of it if all the scenes are exciting or interesting. They will be fun to edit, and they probably require less ‘non-interesting’ bridge material than you originally thought.
As long as you make everything you write a problem for a future version of you to deal with (this includes edits) you will eventually find that there is one version of you that has nothing left to do. That’s how you know you are done writing, and you never had to suffer through ‘writers block’ to get there. You only had to do the fun and exciting parts over and over and over again.
Everything will take way longer than you expect and most part of the process will be hard work, but none of it needs to be so terrible that you find yourself unable to write at all.
I would much rather have been writing a lot of other things, but I went and wrote all this by breaking it down into parts that I liked and worked my way though it in chunks.
Is it great. No. could it use edits. Of course. But I did write it. First word to last.
You can too.