Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

10 Problems/Solutions for Writers (Industry Friday Series #5)

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This post is a bit late for Industry Friday, but technically it’s still Friday in my time zone.

In the previous post “To Vermont or Not to Vermont” I debated whether or not to go to a writer’s residency and the possibility of quitting my job if they didn’t grant me a leave of absence. Well, the good news is they did grant me a leave of absence. But of course this means, now I actually have to WRITE SOMETHING… which brings me to today’s post.

These are my top 10 problems/solutions as a writer (perhaps you can relate):

Lack of inspiration – Staring at the page or screen, not knowing what to say, hating every idea that pops into my head OR loving every idea that pops into my head and not knowing which one to commit to. The worst is when there is a looming deadline.

Solution – When not feeling the muse, basically I write anyway. I’ll write in my journal, write an imaginary letter to one of the characters, write a potential scene, write some dialogue, write even a few words of the idea. Sometimes I will talk with others about the project. Other times I’ll walk around the block and talk to myself, or I’ll talk to my dog. The main thing is to write something even when the well is (or seems) dry.

Lack of discipline – Not writing every day, but writing when you feel like it.

Solution – I’ve tried writing at different times of the day but it seems I’m the most productive in the morning. These days, I’m waking up at 5:30am to write. I have been known to write at night into the wee hours of the morning, but this is only when I’m in an obsessive state.

Obsessing about what to name my characters – Believe it or not, not knowing what to call my characters can sometimes totally stump my creative flow. I have been known to spend hours trying to find the perfect name for a character.

Solution – If I really can’t find a name I love, I force myself to use a temporary name, like of an actor, friend or family member who reminds me of the character, promising myself that I can and will change it later.  

Feeling like I need to read or watch other books/films in order to write my own – It can be helpful to reference other material especially when seeking inspiration. But it can also be very time consuming and easy to feel discouraged.  I start thinking, “well, what’s the point of writing this if so-and-so wrote it and so much better?”

Solution – Monitor how much time is spent reading/watching other people’s work instead of creating my own. When it feels like I’m just using it as an excuse not to write, I stop.

Being distracted – This is a huge problem for me. Sometimes I think the hardest part of writing is just sitting in the chair long enough to get anything done! I’ll come up with any excuse to get out of it, physically or virtually (via the internet).

Solution – Turn everything off! I will turn off my cell phone and even disconnect the home phone and the internet. If I need the internet for research, I’ll turn it back on only for that, but basically I have to sequester myself. I also find that music helps to get me into the mindset of the piece – and stay there.

Being a perfectionist – Another huge problem. I’m a slow writer in part because I am constantly self-editing, going back over the same sentence to phrase it better or differently. On the other hand, it is good to be an excellent proofreader. Sending work out that has all kinds of typos is never good.

Solution – When I sit down to write I allow myself a little bit of “overlap” (i.e. starting a scene or two from where I stopped) so I can get into the world again. But when I find myself obsessing about a sentence that I already wrote, I have to literally force myself to stop and move on, telling myself “I can always fix it later.” Also, I get other people to help me proofread. A fresh pair of eyes is always good before sending out work.

Fear of showing anyone what I’ve written – I don’t feel this as much as I used to, but earlier in my career I used to have panic attacks when I would give work to mentors or colleagues I thought were better writers than I am.

Solution – I try not to put anyone on a pedestal anymore. Also, I try not to be as emotionally invested. Just because someone doesn’t like what I wrote, doesn’t mean I’m not a good writer. I have trained myself to actually love getting notes and be able to weed the stupid/bad ones from the real gems.

Inability to rewrite – Ugh. Rewriting is seriously painful but, as all writers know, absolutely necessary.

Solution – Whereas in earlier years I would get emotionally invested in my first drafts, now I don’t. As previously stated, I am eager to receive notes so I can get on with the rewrite. Also, knowing that rewriting is necessary allows me to mentally prepare. I have grown to love it, up to a point.

Inability to finish – I have several scripts which needed one more rewrite to be great but I never did it, usually because I had already moved on to another.

Solution – While it’s easy to beat myself up for having unfinished material, I also feel like not all material is meant to be finished. Some will be revisited later. Some work is also meant to be a learning experience. That said, it is something I still struggle with and am trying to improve. At least I finish posts!

Inability to write something new (i.e. “fall in love again”) – When I finish a piece I have loved and lived with for a while, it’s hard to jump into another one right away. Also, I’m usually depressed.

Solution – I like to go out of town to clear my mind, or at least allow myself a brief “mourning period.” Now I actually plan for them.

 What are some of the problems you face as a writer? And what are your solutions?

Happy creating!

Author: nivaladiva

Freelance writer and independent filmmaker.

One thought on “10 Problems/Solutions for Writers (Industry Friday Series #5)

  1. Pingback: Monday Starters #12 « AFFEKT

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