Keep hitting the blank page fear?
The brick wall of ‘I don’t know how to finish this?’
I feel like I’m always chanting practice, practice, practice when it comes to writing, yet very often, creativity can come in spurts, fits & starts.
What’s that? Is it bad?
No, it’s writing sporadically, off and on. Writing is one of those weird love-hate relationships in that it takes a lot out of you to write, so you can’t always be churning out masterpieces one after the other (if you’re an exception tell me your secrets in the comments!) you need to let your tank fill up and use what you have when you have it – and it can be infuriating when you’re empty but it’s definitely not bad.
Each creative person finds their own way to fill up the creative tank and there are lots of things to try before throwing down the pen in frustration.
So what can you do?
If you’re a sporadic writer what can you do to make sure that you still have an active audience? You can take a note from bloggers everywhere when the mood strikes put together a few different pieces of writing for yourself, sort of like a catalogue you can pick from. Bloggers sometimes batch their posts, working on a few drafts ahead of time, releasing them one-by-one on a regular schedule so you always have a new post to read.
You will find that you’re definitely not alone in this type of working, almost all media content producers (that’s anyone from YouTube to Instagram to your email newsletters and TV content) do this. This way of working also gives you time to reflect on your produced work and make sure it’s edited, proofread and at the best quality.
If you’re working on longer-term projects, such as a novel, content batching and scheduling may seem useless as it’s one big piece of writing but you can apply the same principles. A lot of people get stuck by working in an A-Z fashion. This means we start on page one and keep running until we’re out of steam. As a novelist, you can get bogged down by chapter five not knowing how you’re going to move on with the plot or a certain character, or even get stuck on your opening line in chapter one. Again, batch your ideas – maybe you don’t know how a character will be killed off just yet, but you want to explore the effect, write a couple of pieces ahead of yourself, letting the rest of the story play out to see if killing off that character really works. You can mess around with a couple of different ideas and see which one fits well. All the extra ideas won’t be wasted – you might even re-use them for other characters or other projects! Time spent writing is never wasted. There’s no rule saying you have to write in order, you just have to put it in the right order when you publish! You never know, it could open up whole new crazy creative ideas for you.
If you’re sitting in front of your keyboard or notepad and you’re not writing at all then you are wasting your energy. Take care of your distractions and go refill your creativity, a temporary break is healthy and normal.
Learn to love and embrace your spurts, fits & starts.