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Writer’s Block?

Hi Everyone!

I figured since I’ve been going through bouts of writer’s block I might tackle the subject of how I handle writer’s block.

I thought that by freeing myself of the day job I would be free to spend my days writing and in turn freeing up my nights for other things. Turns out I still have days I just don’t feel like writing, even though that’s what I’m “supposed” to be doing.
Being an Indie Author presents several tasks, beyond writing, for an author to do. I’m not saying authors published through traditional channels don’t have to deal with the additional stuff I’m going to talk about, because I really don’t know.

Anyhow… I was going to talk about all the distractions getting in the way of me putting my butt in the chair and writing. Is it writer’s block? No. If I force myself to sit and write the words do come out and eventually they flow into something coherent. Sometimes though, it seems no matter what I do, I just find other ‘shiner’ aspects of building my writing career seem to take over.

There’s stuff like the editing process or getting the artwork done for covers or having a website built. Finding the right people to take care of these vital responsibilities takes time and research. Trying not to stress too much when these processes take longer than anticipated really pulls me away from writing. I get a little obsessive over details and timelines to the point where it can actually be crippling. I get tunnel vision and all I care about is whatever I’m waiting on. When I catch myself (or more likely, my husband catches me) getting a little too fixated on one of the details, I haul myself off to the gym, or out for a fun night with friends, or sit down with a good book or movie. Usually I’ll reset and get back to the writing shortly after.

An Indie author has to find their audience. Just because you decide to publish a book doesn’t mean anyone will notice (there is so much content going on the internet daily, you have to let people know you’re there). I have absolutely no background or references for marketing. Having said that, I love to learn new things and challenge myself in new ways. As much as I groan because I’m learning the marketing stuff as I go along, I find it’s nowhere near as bad as what I thought it would be. And then there’s the flip side of the marketing… getting the books outs there and seeing results of people downloading and reading them. Staying organized seems to be the best way for me to not spend too much time on marketing vs. writing.

Social media is this wonderful, international and amazing way of reaching out and showing people what you’ve got going on. I make a point of sending a personal message to every single friend, follower and so on that I encounter. I actually genuinely enjoy “meeting” new people and learning about them. Problem is… it is so easy to get lost down the social media rabbit hole. Hours go by in the blink of an eye and all I’ve written is updates and messages. I’ve found limiting my time on social media (with an actual timer running) is what works best for me. I love reading messages from readers and intend to do my best to make time to answer them, however, if I don’t write… I have no readers. Making the writing come first has to be priority #1.

Then there are the writer’s forums. Fantastic places to mine for valuable information and interact with other authors. Some of what I’ve learned on these forums I couldn’t have found anywhere else. These veteran authors have saved me years of learning the hard way. (Usually how stubborn little me has done things in the past.) Again though, hours vanish and no words appear on my blank screen. I’ve started to put together a schedule of when and how long I can ‘hang out’ on author forums.

I can’t forget the painful obsessing and ‘just peeking’ at my numbers on the various publishing platforms I’m on. It doesn’t matter if it’s my book’s rankings or sales. In a world where information is updated constantly and I can see how many people have downloaded my work from one hour to the next its almost impossible not to let curiosity get the better of me.

Putting oneself out to the world as a writer/author also comes with some unique problems. Like a doctor, at a party, being asked to check out a strange mole – authors get asked to read other people’s work. I am a voracious reader. I love reading. Having said that, when someone says; “can you read my work and let me know what you think?” – I cringe. For starters it takes time to read other people’s work and I can’t read something without editing as I go. So there goes even more time. Then, there’s the other stuff that goes through my mind (mostly):
What if it sucks?
You laugh. It’s happened, with someone’s sucky writing. Most of the time I have no problem speaking my mind, that is, until someone puts their baby on a plate and asks me to look at it. Everyone loves their babies, right? Labors of love, sweat and tears. I know how painful the journey of writing can be and how much everyone loves their work. I also know throughout my own journey I’ve had to learn to get a tough skin and take criticism. Not everyone is there. So, in reading something to help someone you’re now risking being attacked for your honesty. Um… no thanks.

I also have the website stuff to contend with. Not only do I write and post my blog, but I’ve had to learn some html code (again no background in this) It’s taken me hours to figure out how to make simple changes or additions to my website. Once more I enjoy learning new things and then putting my knowledge to use, however, once again I’ve spent days with the coding and website stuff that I could’ve spent actually writing.

These are just ‘professional author’ type distractions. Then there’s pretty much all the stuff (family, friends, pets, appointments, life problems, good books, good movies, good TV shows, exercise, chores, health problems, errands and on and on) that anyone can say is a reason why they haven’t done whatever it is they’re saying they just don’t have time for… I still have an actual life too.

At the end of the day, for me, being organized, setting weekly word counts (so if I get distracted one day, I can make it up the next) and making the time to put my butt in the writing chair keep me moving forward.

With Love and Gratitude until next time,
TJ Shortt