Monday, February 8, 2016

What Keeps You from Writing? Is It Writer's Block? Or Is It Something Else?

In my most recent class with James Patterson, he addressed writer's block and the things keeping those who want to write from writing. I find I don't get writer's block, and even Patterson made the comment he is immune to it. Those who tend to get writer's block in my opinion (which isn't too far from Patterson's) focus on getting one thing completed and, therefore, find themselves stressing about what isn't happening instead of moving on to something else. For example: focusing on writing an individual chapter, scene, character sketch, blog post, book blurb.

The problem is most writers don't move on and come back to whatever it was holding them up. Instead, they stare at the black screen, page or whatever hoping the words will come. If you can't relax the mind, how can your muse honestly come forward? It can't. So move on. Write something else, go for a walk, get some chores done around the house, call a friend, get something to eat or drink. The point is you need to get your mind off what you are stressing over, so it is able to relax and free itself to be creative. Patterson almost said the same thing, and he should know.

After the lesson, Patterson challenged us to spend no more than 30 minutes writing everything we did the day before and then look it over to see what was keeping us from writing. I found this exercise interesting because as I said...I don't get writer's block, but I do get distracted...a lot.

Here is my list I wrote out. I'll let you decided why finding time to write isn't always easy in my daily life and why it lead to me writing not only this blog post but starting this blog to begin with.

1. Woke at 7am, started a load of laundry
2. Woke kids up to get ready for school, made breakfast
3. Helped get the kids ready and out the door for school, read the news
4. Get 5-year-old daughter breakfast and social media posting for WOI (8am)
5. Spend an hour doing school review with 5-year-old and work (9am)
6. Read take home book with 5-year-old daughter
7. Get daughter in bath and help get her get ready for kindergarten (10am)
8. Have lunch before school (11am)
9. check emails and reply
10. Get showered to take daughter to school (11:30am)
11. Walk daughter to kindergarten (12 noon)
12. Put laundry away and return calls
13. Post media release for WOI and clients (1pm)
14. Review DSU writing class presentation (2pm)
15. Eat something for lunch
16. Social media posts for WOI
17. check emails and reply
18. fill out paperwork for Foreign Links Around the Globe (student exchange support)
19. Pick up kids from school (3:15 - 3:30pm)
20. Spend time with kids
21. write (4pm)
22. Exercise (5pm)
23. eat dinner with family (6pm)
24. Finish workout cool down, shower
25. spend time with family (7pm)
26. Finish up work for clients (8pm)
27. Put kids to bed (9pm)
28. read
29. plan next day To Do list
30. spend time with hubby (10pm)
31. go to bed (11pm)

I'm sure there were some little things I forgot or didn't add like using the restroom.

When I looked this list over, I thought was how can I really get more writing time in. Sure, I could let the housework go, but then I'd just stress about a messy house and get nothing done. I know that sounds funny, but my mood is dependent on how clean my house is. I'm nuts I know. I can't actually cut out time with my kids, family and hubby. I need to eat and workout to burn the calories from sitting and writing or whatever else I do while sitting at my desk. I have to work on my commitments so there you go; my day is full of busy work with little time for writing.

Patterson talked about waking up at 5am to get in those two hours to write every day before he was able to be home all day and write. And that my friends are the realities of being a writer. Until you can support yourself off your writing or your kids are in school full time, you have to learn how to carve out time to write. I use a timer for each thing I do so I make sure I get at least an hour a day to write.

Next year, I'll have more time as all my kids will be in school full time giving me six glorious hours to balance my writing with my life.

Okay, now it's your turn!


  1. Your day looks a lot like mine! I'm a working single mum with 2 boys age 12 & 14. I find the best time to write is after they've gone to bed, though there are times I'm too tired. Recently I got a new iPad with a bluetooth keyboard and I'm finding carrying that around is helping as I can break it out and write in my lunch break or waiting for kids activities.

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