Writing fiction is never easy, for so many reasons…. reasons that can easily become excuses to put off getting back to the blank page.
I know that I go through periods of excitement and fun with my fiction, and period when for, one reason or another, I just can’t even open a document. I can’t even think about opening a document.
I believe, though, that writing fiction is part of who I am. So when the going gets tough, I try to examine why exactly it is that I can’t get to writing, or I can’t get excited about writing.
Here are six things, that in different times or in various combinations, have prevented me from writing. It’s important to do your best to understand why the task feels daunting when it becomes that way. Often it’s easy to blame the BIG reason, the obvious reason, when the true barrier might be a combination of different factors. Sometimes, addressing the obvious issues doesn’t do quite enough to get us motivated again.
Disclaimer: I in no way think this is a be-all, end-all, or all-inclusive list. If there is something that has gotten you separated from writing that I don’t mention here, please leave a comment if you feel comfortable adding to the conversation!
1. WRITER’S BLOCK
Let’s get the big, fat, obvious factor out of the way first. Writer’s block hits us all, and it’s never fun to sit and try to write when we have no idea what to say or we have recognized a contradiction in our plot or characters that we can’t yet solve.
I discuss two ways to break through writer’s block here. They are character-focused. Can’t guarantee anything, but it may be worth a read if you’re currently stuck.
2. SO…. VERY…. TIRED….
We live busy lives in this day and age. We’re all, always, connected to others via technology 24-7. Considering how most writers are introverts and expend, rather than gain, energy from social situations, it’s easy to understand how we might feel too drained, emotionally and/or physically, at the end of the day to write.
I used to write in the morning, and honestly prefer that. But nowadays I have to rise too early to write in the mornings, so I’m left writing at night. That often transfers into writing not at all. I’m trying not to feel too guilty about it and just do what I can, when I can.
3. ONE OF MANY PURSUITS
Many writers live rich interior lives, as well as having social obligations and social hobbies. Time spent playing sports, or exercising, or reading, or watching a beloved, thought-provoking show, or making a puzzle, or painting or knitting, is time we can’t spend writing. So sometimes writing takes a back seat to other hobbies: especially seasonal hobbies, like athletics.
We can’t let anyone tell us what our priorities should be where our hobbies are concerned. We all need exercise. We all need multiple outlets to express ourselves. If you write enough for you, and that makes you happy, then that’s enough: no matter how often you write (or don’t). Personally, I’d say that if you find yourself really regretting that you aren’t writing more, or you seriously want to pursue a career as a writer, then maybe it’s time to consider some adjustments.
4. HEALTH ISSUES
Whether we are talking depression and anxiety disorders, or other diseases like arthritis or cancer, we can only do so much with what we have. And when our health poses a barrier to writerly pursuits, it is what it is, unfortunately. Sometimes, the focus needs to be on health and recovery and the basics. It stinks, but it’s definitely not something to feel guilty about: no matter how much you wish you were writing.
5. FAMILY LIFE
Whether it’s a child’s ball games, or date night, or house cleaning and repairs, sometimes real life has to come first. In the case of ball games and date night…. that’s awesome. In the case of house repairs and bill paying, not so much. There are days none of us wants “to adult,” as I’ve been reading lately.
(The linguist in me is fascinated by this new usage! Maybe in a century or so, “to adult” will be accepted as a legitimate verb. Has anyone else seen those memes that say, “I don’t want to adult today. Please don’t make me adult.”)
6. WORK WORK WORK!
It’s eye-opening and frightening for me to talk to different people about their jobs and what they do, or to read about different people discussing work online. I’ve said more than once lately that, in this economy, few people are winning out. Chances are that you’re unemployed or underemployed, or if not, you’ve got a job in which you handle the workload and responsibilities of, at the least, a person and a half. It’s tough. It’s time-consuming and anxiety producing. It is what it is. We’ve just go to do what we must do…. And that, sadly, often means sacrificing writing.
Which of these barriers to writing afflict you the most? Are there some I didn’t mention? Whatever the case, you are DEFINITELY not alone in finding it difficult sometimes to get word on the page. We can at least all realize that. It’s important to admit that about ourselves, and important to understand that it’s a common struggle.