So You Are A Writer…

Reading Time: 7 minutes

You write semi-regularly, you have produced whole stories or poems or maybe even published an entire work. However, you still struggle to write on certain days. Maybe the block has been especially bad lately. You’re wondering if something is wrong with you or if maybe you are broken. Perhaps the writing feels as though it has gotten harder for you rather than easier, and you are wondering why. Let’s talk about this for a moment. 

Writing is extremely difficult. It demands rigorous dedication. Language is only honed through daily use. Worse yet, it can atrophy quickly in times of poor maintenance. The more time you take off from writing the harder it becomes. The act of writing is possessed by a natural compounding effect. At all times you are either improving or worsening. Writing is a daily discipline and must be practiced daily. This does not mean that you have to work on your WIP (Work In Progress) at all times. If you are struggling to produce on your WIP, set it aside and work on a different kind of writing. If your WIP is a novel, try writing a short story or poem. Write a blog entry or pen a letter. But write. A lot of times you just need to warm your brain. It is hard work getting your brain to make word associations that forge good language. This takes a warmup period. Be patient with yourself. 

When I am out of ideas I set the pen down and pick up a book that I’m currently reading. I oftentimes find that the next step in my own WIP is sparked by something I’ve read. At a minimum I am inclined toward ideas inspired by my reading, which I then jot down in my notebook. Make sure you jot down notes in whatever medium you use for note taking. Be it paper or on a tablet or on your phone. Keep a ready supply of notes taken and space for new notes to be taken. 

Writing is a form of muscle memory. It requires neural pathways and training, and it is an obdurate task for anyone, but especially the writer who is new to the experience. Everyone has experienced the difficulty. To begin to build the discipline that allows you to improve and makes writing easier, you must repeat the process over and over for hours each day. This is a non-negotiable requirement. There is no way around the work of honing your craft. 

There are ways to build your production over time. Plenty of famous and successful writers were not prodigious in the quantity of writing they produced, but were ritualistic about their daily accretion. Set a daily goal that is reasonable and still allows you to live your life. This is different for everyone. But living your life is as important to your success as a writer as writing. Without observation you will struggle to write. 

Understand that many of your best ideas will occur to you in your subconscious mind during the times of day when you are shutting off your conscious mind. Oftentimes this is when you’re readying to drift off to sleep. Keep a notebook handy and never try to remember the ideas. Write the notes down no matter what they are. You will dispose of plenty of these ideas but some will be spectacular and you will find them useful.

Writing requires an abnormal level of concentration. In time (and with practice) you will discover that you rely more and more on your subconscious to direct your work. You will ruminate on your story and your plot, but it is your subconscious that will provide you the answers. You will think upon the questions to be answered with your conscious mind, but oftentimes the answer will be returned to you with the unconscious. Once you experience this you will learn about your own creative process and when these epiphanies strike for you.

Some of it is a matter of timing and preference. I prefer to write early in the morning between 6 and 10 am. This is when I am freshest and when I have ample access to the subconscious which has been speaking to me all throughout the night. Some people break through to their subconscious by gardening or running or sitting in a park. Oftentimes it is when you are working on a menial task that you have subconscious breakthroughs, say, while you are digging a hole, raking leaves, or folding the laundry. 

You cannot be a writer and be so paralyzed with fear of writing that you do not write. Everyone writes badly. The best authors put down words they dislike and every author I have ever spoken to, or read about, has been disgusted by his or her own work. Being dissatisfied with your work is one of the hallmarks of a writer. There will be a continual growth process in which you spin, and you will always feel that you are missing the mark. That may be more indication than anything else that you are well on your way. 

All writing is rewriting. Rewriting is a critical part of the process. The sooner you get on with the first draft the sooner you can  get on with the second draft. Rewriting is a never ending process. You will find that you are satisfied with your work in fleeting moments and wake to discover that you despise that same work. Before you have your present work in publication you will likely be disgusted with it and aspiring to the next project. Know that this is usual and probably a healthy sign that you are self-aware and continually growing.

Writing is oftentimes an organic and confusing process of experimentation. If you are not willing to experiment on the page you absolutely cannot progress. If you are struggling to put down words, take a break and remind yourself to stop searching for the perfect line. Remind yourself it is okay to write a line that is subpar then return to it later. A single project is the result of many edits and rewrites. You must learn to be patient with yourself and to withhold judgment.

Writing is frustrating in its complexity. There are teachable forms to creative writing but every writer’s implementation will differ. Therefore, every writer must learn on his or her own, apart from anyone else, by the light of a lamp at a desk (or wherever you choose to perform the act). It is rigorous. Every person who has ever put words to paper has struggled to find the correct words. Every writer has had moments when they couldn’t make the proper associations or connections. But the only way to have a process for writing is to forge your process. The writing process is frustratingly specific to the individual and is nearly always a process of trial and error. 

Losing your fear of failure and of error and of not being good enough is nearly always the first step on the way to doing good work. 

Happy writing!!

Roman Newell

Graphic Compositions:
by: Darlene Carroll

Graphic work can not be accomplished without the incredible resources made available to this Author and his team. THANK YOU to the following artists for the gift of their artistry and generosity in sharing their beautiful artwork, photography, and fonts.

Background Imagery:
o. FreeFunArt – Pixabay
o. Willgard Krause – Pixabay

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