blog Life Finds a Way — Overcoming Obstacles to Writing

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Black Dragon, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    Penpilot submitted a new blog post:

    Life Finds a Way — Overcoming Obstacles to Writing
    by John Wong


    Life finds a way. That’s a line from the original Jurassic Park. In some ways it speaks to the robustness of life, how it can persevere and thrive in the most unwelcoming environments and push past all the challenges thrown in its direction. I think that’s a good thing.

    BUT when it comes to writing, I’m not sure that it is.

    In writing, life finds a way to step in front of your progress, to slow you down, to throw you off course, to discourage you in whatever way it can. It catches you between the push-pull of things competing for your time and energy.

    We all have our real life stories and the challenges that come along with them. But, one thing I’ve come to realize is that like life, for me, writing finds a way. I just have to open myself up to the possibilities in front of me and let it in.

    For me, I found the trick wasn’t to fight against what life threw at me, but to work with and within it. If you’d indulge me, I’d like to share with you a glimpse of how I did that. Perhaps, it can help you let your writing find its way.

    In a Perfect World

    It was a little over eight years ago that I decided to put nose to grindstone and finish the novel I’d been fiddling with for the better part of fifteen years, never getting past the first few chapters. I was rumbling along, pushing hard, and rarely falling short of a thousand words a day. On top of that, I’d signed up for...
    Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
  2. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    There are some who wake up a little earlier and write when they're fresh. Others write during their lunch. I believe this is how Chuck Palahniuk wrote Fight Club.

    For me...

    I have this simple motivator that I used when I was going to school. I find it's basically a mental kick in the can.

    When things got tough around exam time and I was tempted to just say screw it all and jump back into bed, I would ask myself one question. Are you serious about this or not?

    If I'm not then I might as well go do something else because I'm wasting my time. If I am serious about it, then I should take a breath and focus on getting the work done. Because, every second I don't procrastinate, is another second I can spend on doing something else after the work is done.

    Now when it comes to writing, it comes down to the question, do I want to write or not? So, it comes down to the same basic choices. I can walk away and do something else or I can write.

    If I walk there's no guilt, no beating myself up, because really, there are no consequences. There's no writing police waiting to punish me. There's just me and the choices I make and have to live with. No right or wrong to it.

    I want to write, I want to tell a story, so I sit down do it.


    Honestly, some days, I need a breather and don't write a lick. But, I've come to realize it's about making steady progress. Whether that's large leaps or small steps, it doesn't matter as long as it's consistent.

    I try to establish consistent writing times, and then I fit in what I can during those times. When I do that, I find everything else takes care of itself.

    I used to get intimidated by the large word counts in novels, and it used to feel overwhelming. Where the heck was I going to find the time to put down all those words?

    But then I realized if I write 250 words a day for a year I'll have 91250 words. That's a decent sized novel. I don't think that's a tough goal to reach each day. Heck, this post is almost 400 words.

    Once I understood this, I found things less overwhelming. Everything seemed to be within reach, because I was no longer thinking along the lines of needing to find 100 000 words in one sitting. I just needed the 250 and anything beyond was bonus.

    Hope this helps a little.

    John W.
  3. Malik

    Malik Scribal Lord

    Great article.

    Procrastination will make you its bitch if you let it. Start working on whatever's next.

    I'm career military, so while time is a factor for me, discipline isn't. I don't understand people who don't have the strength of character to find time to write. You either want to write, or you want an excuse to not write. There's no gray area, here.

    I do my concepting during my morning run. Monday-Friday, 0430-0530. Alone, in the dark, my Sauconys on the pavement. This is my time away from the world. I do my best thinking, here.

    At 0600, ready for the day in a fresh uniform, I close myself in my office out behind the garage with a cup of coffee.

    Second cup of coffee around 0615.

    I write until 0700, leave for work at 0715. Monday through Friday. Period. This is not hard. If family things or minor disasters get in the way, so be it. Generally, though, there's nothing going on in my house at 0600. There just isn't. I get 500-1000 words every day in this hour. Less, today, because I'm doing this post. This still probably counts as writing, though.

    I spend my evenings with my family and doing infrastructure stuff: dishes, laundry, bills, whatever. I don't write in the evenings unless everything is done and I'm alone.

    On weekends, I usually take one day--I'm flexible on which--and just stay in my office and write. This is my big writing day, and I typically get 4000-5000 words; about 15-20 pages. This is the biggest dent that writing puts in my life, but it's no different than when I used to spend Saturday nights out gigging with my band or spend a Sunday under my hot rod. I get 30-40,000 words per month this way. I talk about my own idiosyncratic process in a blog post on my site, but the short of it is that I revise by writing complete, fresh drafts. I wear through my laptop keys.

    On that, time for that second cup of coffee, and back to it.
  4. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Article Team

    I love hearing about other writers' process! Makes me feel a little less idiosyncratic. :D Mine starts with coffee (oh so much coffee) and finding the right music. Once that's settled I get down to work... slowly. I put out about a page every twenty minutes or so when I'm really chugging along and report them to my writing partners who cheer me on, which helps immensely. Yes, I am five-years-old.

    But! eventually a book pops out, so it works out in the end. Our next one is due out in May!
    Malik and Penpilot like this.

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