Writer’s Block? Nope. Too Many Distractions.

I don’t believe in Writer’s Block. I believe you can always sit down and write something. There is always more than enough ideas to put down on the computer screen, even if they are crappy ideas… 

There’s a great analogy I use from time to time about farmers. Do they get up in the morning, look outside at the fields and decide they have Farmer’s Block today, and go back to bed? I doubt it. They get on that horse (see what I did there?) and they do the job. 

As writers, we have to do it as well. My backup plan is to always have several projects going at once, in varied points of being finished. I always know the pecking order of them, especially if there is an actual publisher deadline associated with one of more. I work on the main story, but if I get lost or I’m not feeling it, I move onto something else. The bottom line is for me to write my 2,000 word a day goal and feel good by the time I go to sleep.

Of course, I don’t always hit my mark. Last week, faced with a severe deadline since I slacked so bad, I wrote 20,000 words (of a 40,000 word story) in three glorious days. I turned off the internet, ignored Facebook and twitter and e-mails, and just wrote. For hours. 

But that is not the norm. I wish it was. I see authors (notice I didn’t say writers) who set 5,000 word goals and/or 8 hour writing days, and they hit it like clockwork. They are professionals and they are building their career one word at a time. 

I feel like a fake half the time, even though I technically do this for a living (just don’t look too closely at where I live, what I drive, and how I finagle to pay some bills), and I put my head down some nights and know I could have done more. 

Social media is a necessary evil, but does endless hours on Twitter really sell more books for me? The smart part of my thinking knows I might sell an extra book or two a week by posting and commenting for 10 hours a week. The really smart part knows I could be writing an extra 10,000 words in the same period of time and getting that much closer to another release, and another potential way for readers to find my work, love it and then buy my back-list of titles. 

Factor in people talking to me, food all around me, radio and TV, and tons of blogs I just have to read… I waste about 6 hours a day on non-writing stuff. 6 hours! That would be quite a few extra words to write, and more projects done, and more chances to sell things, and…

Yet, I know it won’t happen with any real frequency. Sigh.

At least I know I don’t have Writer’s Block. There is that, right? 

Buy this book so I can retire, too… just sayin’ 

TOOL  SHED

ToolShed

5 Responses to “Writer’s Block? Nope. Too Many Distractions.”

  1. I loved this post, love the farmer’s analogy! I tend to think writer’s block just means there’s something brewing in your psyche that doesn’t know how to get out. In December I hadn’t written for 2 weeks, and forced myself to sit down and write anything. Now I’m writing chapter 43 of the novel that “nothing” produced. Keep it up, Armand, you inspire me.

    –Julie

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  2. You’re right – it’s always possible to write something. Writing is plain hard work, most of the time…and what you’re describing about the way you go about it – that’s professional! And more so, on my experience, than many who write for a living.

    I had an eye-opener on that a few years back – I was scheduled to speak in the Auckland Readers and Writers festival. The contract included a clause requiring me to show up half an hour early and to be properly prepared. Uh – what? Turned out the organisers had been caught with guest speakers having to be roused from hotel rooms. These were ‘professional’ writers. Uh…, yeah OK,. but not by my standards they weren’t.

    Writing is a business, like any other.

    I’m also convinced that social media doesn’t sell books. I have places for people to click-and-buy on my website and blog. Just on 0.15 percent of readers bother to click. Less than that bother to buy.On the other hand, there are some great rewards from social media in terms of being able to chat with some great people of common interest (balanced against the time taken away from writing…)

    Good luck with your books – and all power to your writing hand!

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  3. Found this blog post the other day that might be relevant: http://zoewintersbooks.com/2013/03/08/four-hour-work-days/

    I think she’s right. The reason you’re not working eight hour days is because it fees like sixteen hours. Creative work is draining. What was it Hemingway said? “Writing is easy. You just sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” Feels like that a lot for me.

    I work a day job as a computer programmer. On days where I do more design work I’m more exhausted than on days when I’m just hammering out code. Coding is often more repetitious than designing, requiring less creative thought.

    Because of my day job I tend to write only one hour each day through the week. But Saturday and Sunday I could theoretically write for eight hours. I never do. Four hours is all I can squeeze out. Why? Because it feels like eight hours. I work seven days a week between programming and writing, so pushing too hard can result in burnout.

    To combat this “creative fatigue” I take a lot of breaks while writing. This really helps me get more out of my writing time. I write for an hour, take a half-hour break. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Before I know it I have four thousand words written, feel good about myself, and feel like I still have energy left for the wife and kids.

    Another approach could be to cram for four hours each morning and then take the rest of the day off. Maybe 8:00 to noon, something like that. Take one day off per week. Experiment to see what type of schedule jives with your writing style. I’ve been doing that myself for the past several months, trying different things to increase my productivity. This book helped me too: http://amzn.com/B009NKXAWS. Her advice is pretty sound.

    I’m also almost non-existent on Facebook and Twitter, which gives me back a lot of time. I use that time to read other writer blogs (like yours) and for writing. In my opinion, books sell other books much more effectively than social networking.

    So I guess I’m saying that most books aren’t written in marathon sessions. Shorter sessions add up, providing you with your word count while allowing you to keep your sanity.

    Something to consider, if nothing else.

    Brian

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  4. I feel you, brother. In fact, I’m goofing off right now! Marinating in self-loathing…

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