Tag Archives: mindset

Writer’s Block, Part 2

Practical Tools to Deal with Writer’s Block

Last week we talked about writer’s block and viewing it through a different lens. Sometimes all you need to do is shift your mindset.

But in case that’s not enough to get the words flowing smoothly again, here are a few practical tools.

1. Consider writer’s block a luxury.

Writers, such as Tim Grahl (Running Down a Dream), Steven Pressfield (The War of Art), and Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones), have all written a variation on this advice. Goldberg even suggests that you open a notebook and write “I don’t know what to write” over and over until you’re bored enough that you begin to write something else.

2. Write something else.  (CAUTION)

Start a new piece or revisit an old one if you’re stuck in your current manuscript. I share this with caution, though, because it’s very easy to start lots of pieces. At some point, you have to find your grit and finish them.

If you’re trying to jump back into something you’ve previously abandoned, it might take a bit of work to find your groove. Read what you’ve written and pay attention to where you feel excitement. You can also recreate your writing experience by playing music that sets the tone. Or create a new writing experience to avoid getting stuck again. For example, write in a new location or a different time of day.

3. Utilize dictation tools, such as the Voice Memo app or Dragon for on-the-run writing.

This is similar to keeping a writer’s notebook, but perfect for those situations when it’s not safe to jot down ideas, such as while driving. If you regularly dictate your writing, you’ll always have something to work on when you sit down with your manuscript.

4. Allow for marination time. (Caution)

Build in thinking time when you’re writing and editing. Yes, you need to be dedicated and persistent to writing. And you also need to give yourself time and space to allow new ideas to arrive or to wrestle with thorny issues. Marination time is part of the creative process. Just be sure you’re not allowing marination time to become your excuse for not writing.         

5. Challenge yourself or a writing buddy to a sprint.

Set a timer (5, 10, or 15 minutes) and write as much as you can without stopping. When the timer dings, revel in what you accomplished and use that energy burst to fuel your creativity.

Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash

Pantsers and Plotters

Are you a pantser or a plotter or a planter (should that be pottser)?

Pantsers are writers who do not write with a plan. Outlines feel like handcuffs. They sit at the keyboard just to see what happens next, or who will show up.

Plotters are the exact opposite. They come ready to write, plan in hand. They already know what happens next, and next, and next, and there will be no surprise guests in their character roster.

Then there are the rest of us: some combination of pantser and plotter who has at least a loose plan in their head and enough flexibility to meander down a creative stream when it appears.

Which is better?

To be clear, there isn’t a “right” way to write. No extra brownie points, or fans leaving reviews, if you plot over pant, or vice versa.

But I think it’s worth the time to occasionally check in with how your particular process makes you feel. If you’re always a pantser, but you find you’re often experiencing resistance, maybe that strategy is no longer working for you. Try jotting down a handful of notes, or even a rough outline, before you begin. Or know where you want to end up, but be open to how you’ll get there.

Same goes for the plotters. If you’re always prepared with an outline, but lately your writing feels stale, or you’re not having as much fun, try a handful of spontaneous writing exercises to see how your writing changes. Experiment more than once to really feel out the process.

Evolve

In the same way that we sink deeper into our writing voices over time, it’s likely that your writing style will also evolve. Be flexible enough to try something new if the old way begins to let you down.

Photo by Terri Anne Heighway on Unsplash

Time to Write

An hourglass with blue sand sits at a tilt on pebbles.

Last month I asked what writing problem you would solve if you had a magic wand, and several of you said you’d magic up more time to write. Last I heard, the Ministry of Magic still isn’t loaning time turners to Muggles, so what else can you do to find time to write?

Last month I asked what writing problem you would solve if you had a magic wand, and several of you said you’d magic up more time to write. Last I heard, the Ministry of Magic still isn’t loaning time turners to Muggles, so what else can you do to find time to write?

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Welcome to the Teaching Corner!

Nicole is wearing a brightly colored flowing dress and sneakers. She stands in an open door. She is smiling.

I’ve always been a teacher at heart, and I love sharing what I know about editing and writing to help authors grow. This is why I created the blog “An Editor’s Teaching Corner for Writers.”

Each post will contain a writing tip from one element of the Teaching Corner Framework, which consists of Mindset, Content, Mechanics, and Feedback to help you grow as a writer. So what kinds of things will I be teaching?

Mindset: Mindset tips will cover everything from imposter syndrome to defining success, to creating a writing practice that works for your individual style.

Content: Content tips will dive deep into story elements and other ideas that make your writing unputdownable. Nonfiction folks, don’t worry, I’ll explore content areas for your growth, too.

Mechanics: Mechanics tips will cover ways to improve your writing at the word and sentence level. Think all things punctuation, grammar, spelling, formatting, etc.

Feedback: Feedback tips will explore how to source feedback and what to do with it once you’ve received it.

What kinds of things will I not cover? The Teaching Corner won’t explain publishing or marketing tips. That is not my wheelhouse, and there are other folks who are doing a great job with this already. However, I promise to share helpful resources in these areas whenever I run across one.