Thursday, November 13, 2008

Question Me Good - Pt. 4

Next in line for the Ask Me a Question series are a few questions about my writing process from The Driftwood Collector.

How do you deal with writer's block? Distractions? How do you keep yourself motivated to write?

These are great questions, and the simple answers are "I give up," "I give in" and "it's not easy," respectively. That's what I'd like to do sometime, anyway. In reality, giving up or giving in just aren't options when I'm getting paid, and I'll never get that novel written if I give up. So here's what I do when I'm hit with The Block, I'm distracted by dust bunnies or I'm losing motivation.

When writer's block strikes, I try to push through it with a random writing exercise or by working on something I enjoy. Usually writer's block is more about fear or boredom for me, so to get past it requires getting word--ANY words--down on paper or on my computer screen. Once I've started I can usually transition into that dreaded project or scene I'm struggling with pretty easily.

Distractions are a bit harder for me to deal with. Sometimes I let them take over a little bit, like allowing myself to take a 15 minute break every hour to check my Twitter replies or email. A little distraction can be a good thing. On the other hand, sometimes they threaten to take over. For instance, if I'm at home trying to work I avoid turning on the television at all costs. Even the worst shows (we're talking infomercials, here) can distract me when I don't feel like working yet another weekend. On a bad day, I can also be tempted by laundry, dishes or rugs that need to be vacuumed. On those days, I pack up my stuff and head to the nearest Panera or Starbucks or other writer-friendly locale, where household chores and a comfy couch aren't calling my name.

To keep me motivated in my freelance writing, I try to choose more projects that excite me than projects that don't. If the topic interests me, it's easier to motivate myself to get it done. If it's dry and boring...a little harder. For the not-so-fun writing, I generally have to bribe myself. ("When you finish this article, you can watch that movie.") For my personal (meaning non-paying) writing, motivation is more about staying excited about the story/blog/article that I'm working on. I do that by:

  • telling everyone I know about the project
  • setting aside time to work on it (or at least think about it)
  • setting goals and deadlines and sticking to them
  • rereading old pieces
  • joining a critique group that requires me to write something bimonthly
Motivation is another challenge, but because I enjoy writing (in general) it's easier to motivate myself to write than, say, mow the lawn. Although if the lawn needs mowing and I'm feeling the need for a distraction...

How about all the writers out there? How do you deal with the challenges of writer's block, distraction, and lack of motivation?

If you've got a burning question for me but haven't had a chance to ask it, you can go to the original post and leave your question in a comment. I'll keep answering a question or two a day until they're all answered.

If you're just tuning in, check out the rest of the series.


Angie Ledbetter said...

So enjoyed this post. I motivate myself by saying, "There is no such thing as writer's block...just a refusal to put butt in chair and fingers on keys." :)

Have a very similar sticky note on my monitor too.

Ami said...

Thanks, Angie. And you're right, there's no such thing as writer's block. It's all in our minds! We just need to sit down and start typing.

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