Dodge Around the Blocks

When you absolutely can’t think of another single word, and the very thought of sitting down at your keyboard to carry on, or start, writing your book makes you almost come out in hives, that’s the very time to do just that. Force yourself, no matter how blank your mind seems to be. If you give in to the “I’ll do it later when I’m feeling more inspired” thought, there’s a very distinct probability that you’ll give in to that very same thought again, and then again. Habits form amazingly quickly, and bad habits even quicker than good ones, so it’s best to try not to give them any room for takeover. One unproductive hour becomes two – one day becomes two.

The path of least resistance is generally the wrong path to take in writing – in life too, but most definitely in writing. If writing a single book, let alone multiple books, was easy, then everyone would be doing it. The fact that it’s actually really hard, and that you’re doing it anyway makes you a legend. Not everyone has the ability to translate a story in their head to words on pages that people will enjoy reading. Just like art, you can see amazing things in your mind, but if you don’t have that mystical innate artistic talent that some are born with you’re not likely to transfer it exactly as you see it to canvas.

When the going gets hard, make yourself work harder. When the words on your screen look stupid, and you’re sure that your book is going to be laughed under tables, and physically thrown at walls because of the very rottenness of it, just add more words to those words. They’re very probably the opposite of rotten words. When doubt creeps in to try and steal your words, write those words down anyway. They’re there inside waiting for you to move around the fear.

When you get stuck, and we all get stuck at some point in writing our books, it’s time to firmly employ the dodge and scribble on anyway maneuver. At the end of that sentence that seems to be the last one you’ll ever be able to write, and you’re quivering in terror knowing full well that you’re an absolute fake. You’re not a writer, and never will be. Just hit the page break button and start typing something else. If you’ve hit a wall as far as what must happen next, forget about it and move on to the next chapter. You have a general idea of what will happen later in your story. Move on and write some of that. Never stop and allow the blank page to stay where it is while your doubt induced terror freezes you up even further. Move on. Write something else. Anything else. But write on.

Generally people don’t get impossible to ignore urges to do something unless it’s something that they should be doing. Doing anything worthwhile is seldom a doddle. If you have been called to write, then that’s what you should be doing. It’s not going to be easy, but it won’t always be hard either. So, never give up. Always dodge around the blocks and scribble on anyway.

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11 thoughts on “Dodge Around the Blocks”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Jo. An author friend I know always has several books on the go and writes in all of them every day. Inspiration doesn’t come into it. His output is phenomenal.

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  2. These are a very good points. I feel as though people don’t push themselves enough when they’re serious about writing. What do you feel about the flip side, though? When pushing yourself could do harm? There have been times in the depths of writer-loathing where I hate everything I write and usually end up completely psyching myself out if I try to push through it. If I give it a day or two and then come back, I have much better results.

    I’d say it’s always a balance between being lazy and being serious about writing. But people are prone to taking the easy way out, yes?

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  3. Good points – this is something that happens to me with the first big re-write. I have to keep repeating ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ over and over!

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  4. Thanks so much for the advice, Jo. I’m still fluffing around with my motivational memoir but I found a new hook this week. I decided to start putting together an account of my 8 month trip to Europe back in 1992 for the kids and myself. I did a poetry reading at the Shakespeare & Company Bookshop as a 21 year old unknown Australian and actually spoke with legendary George Whitman. It was very intimidating. The reading went well but I don’t think I really knew a lot about the bookshop at the time and Google was amazing so I have quite a bit to work with. I was in Paris for 6 weeks with friends and we met and befriended other equally lost and seeking travellers. It was fun but also quite stressful. There was this very definite angst going on.
    I’d been mentally trying to retrace my steps but couldn’t remember the roads and have really poor spatial skills and then found a Google map and was able to use Google Earth to walk the street and literally retrace my steps. It was so incredible.
    Anyway, take care & best wishes,
    Rowena

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