As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been in a writing slump. A rut. A one way street leading to a dead end.
I know this. I don’t like it, but I know it.
But I haven’t really been able to put my finger on the “why”.
After 300+ posts (and another 100 partial drafts) have I been afflicted with the dreaded “writer’s block”?
Or, is it more of a motivation block?
Let me expand, and we’ll try to get to the bottom of this.
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On one hand, I have felt a very real lack of things to write about. Sure, right now I have about 50 different ideas jotted down in a “blog ideas” notebook, and another 75 drafts ranging from basic outline to almost ready to publish. But few of those have inspired me enough to create/complete something and share it with the world.
When my writing is flowing and coming easily, it’s like there is this whole other guy inside my head. He’s the one doing the talking, saying all these (hopefully) witty and intelligent things in a style that is (hopefully) easy and enjoyable to read. We banter and have a grand old time conjuring up silly lists, sharing our passion for adoption, and talking about our Huskers. When that guy is rolling, all I have to do is type whatever he says into WordPress and take the credit.
But lately, that dude hasn’t had much to say. And from what little he has to say, much of it isn’t that interesting – or would require a lot of editing and massaging on my part. I’ll be honest: this writing thing is much easier when that guy in my head is feeding me all of the good lines.
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But on the other hand, I find myself struggling to carve out writing time.
Time out. Let’s be honest here – it’s not like I’m go-go-go busy 20 hours a day. Yes, my workload at the office is higher than it was a year ago, and the addition of baby number three in August has not done wonders for my free time, but truth be told I do have a couple of good windows available almost every day. I usually am able to take a true lunch hour, so I could pretty easily carve out 30 minutes of time to work on something. Even with those three kids (and the messes they create), I’m almost always sitting down for the night by 9:00; 9:30 at the latest. I’m a night owl, which means I typically three (or more) hours to be able to sit down and write.
But it’s not happening.
At lunch time, I like to get out of the office and either come home (where I’ll read the paper and take a few minutes to relax) or go out on a lunch date with Facebook and Twitter.
Once the kiddos are in bed, the kitchen is relatively clean, and anything else that needed to be done is done, all I want to do is sit in my chair, put my feet up, and get lost in my phone or a TV show. I may try to tell myself that I’ll write in a little bit (after this show is over, after I run out of lives on Candy Crush Saga, after my wife falls asleep and I can turn off the TV, etc.), but when push comes to shove, I find myself wanting to do something – damn near anything – other than write. Twitter! Angry Birds! Solitaire! Ooo, I think I have another life on Candy Crush! This episode (that I’ve seen three times before) is a good one!
Before I know it, it’s at (or past) my bedtime and the day ends without any writing being done. This has been especially problematic as some of the few things I’ve felt desire to write about have been on the topical/what’s in the news side of the street. It doesn’t matter how potentially good my Olympics-related posts might have been, it seems silly to publish them three weeks after the games ended.
* * *
There definitely is a block going on, but I’m not quite sure where it lies. Since I’m not finding myself with the need to write before the words start falling out of my ears, I think writer’s block is a fair diagnosis. But if I’m really being honest with myself, I think the blockage is more on the mental side – choosing to waste time instead of using it towards something I enjoy. We could spend another 1,000 words (or $200 an hour with a professional) trying to get to the bottom of what might be causing that…
And so, I am left with this vicious chicken and the egg cycle. I don’t really feel like writing, and when I do sit down to do it, there isn’t much that sparks me.
That’s why I’m hopeful this A – Z Challenge will be the kick in the pants to force that guy in my head to do his thing on a daily basis, while forcing me to make time to get something out on a deadline.
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(Author’s note: Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post? Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge? Like clicking on links? These questions are all answered here.)
I once read that the best solution to writer’s block is to just write anything. Actually, most of my posts begin that way! And they never end as I thought they would. Hopefully A to Z will give you the impetus to push on over the hill and get those creative juices flowing again.
So far, so good.
I feel your pain! I am not nearly as busy as you are, and it’s STILL hard to get myself into the chair and get the writing done. Have you read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art? I highly recommend it. He would define what you are struggling with as “Resistance” (with a capital R) and the book talks about how Resistance operates and what you can do to fight it. He might give you some good ideas. Download the free sample onto a kindle app and see if the beginning speaks to you. I bet it will. It has helped me a lot.
I have read The War of Art, but it sounds interesting. Thanks for the recommendation.