Tag Archives: writer’s block

On Writer’s Block

I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the concept of writer’s block. I know there are times where we don’t know what to write next. I’ve always got ideas, but sometimes I’m uninspired. However, that’s the thing with writing- you’re not going to be inspired or motivated. In fact, most days you won’t be. There will be times where you get stuck and you’re not sure what to do next. You’re not blocked.

There’s no such thing as writer’s block.

That is a concept that amateur writers think exists because they think we all sit down, inspired to make magic happen every day. We don’t. I used to be one of those amateur writers. In fact, there are still days where I don’t write but for the most part I’ve developed a habit. That’s the important thing- develop the habit of writing every day. You don’t have to work on the same project every day. And that’s really what I’m here to talk to you about…

Get Yourself “Unstuck”

It’s really very simple. As mentioned in a previous post, Turn on the Faucet, words tend to flow once you sit your butt in a chair and start making things happen. Start typing about your day. Describe your surrounding in excruciating detail. If you start writing “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over again, eventually your brain will find something else to write. Maybe you’ll start writing about the film, The Shining, or the book by Stephen King, or maybe you’ll start writing about how you feel overwhelmed at work and you don’t get enough free time. This can spiral into another idea. Need a place to do this? Check out my previous post on 750words.com.

The bottom line is, you could write anything. It may not be applicable to your current work in progress but it doesn’t matter because you’re still writing. You’re still honing your craft- a craft that none of us master, according to Ernest Hemingway.

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

Just because you didn’t work on your current WIP, doesn’t mean you can’t make progress in some way. Work on a blog, work on a short story, work on a different novel idea, brainstorm a new project, and when you’re not doing all of those things, read!

You should always be making progress towards your future self.

There’s a lot of inspirational quotes online- some of which say something like, “will the you five years from now look back and regret not taking those forward steps to get closer to your dream?”

Stop trying to skip the struggle. If writing were easy, everyone would do it. Instead, people romanticize the idea of being a writer. I’m still not sure why. There is something about it that people find alluring when really most of us have had times when we skipped showering, brushing our teeth and eating in order to down more coffee and churn out that next chapter. When you’re a writer, you’re essentially playing God. You are creating characters, moments, places, and events from nothing. It’s exhaustive work.

Understandably, sometimes you don’t feel like playing God but in order to hone the craft you need to work at it every day. It will be a struggle.

Write every day as though it were breathing.

I hope things are going well for those of you who are participating in Camp NaNo this month. We’re about to head into the doldrums of week two and the second week tends to be the toughest. If you find yourself running out of steam, it’s okay. It happens. If you feel stuck, don’t be afraid to skip around in your story or work on something else. You can always come back. Your work isn’t going anywhere without you.

Happy writing!

-RB

Memes for Writing Encouragement

Readers, today’s post will be a gallery post. With the end of NaNo’s July Camp in sight, I recognize the need to encourage everyone to stay on track and push towards their goals. This being said, I own none of these pictures. They have been collected through the years by Google searches and various websites. Their authors are at the bottom of each meme or photo. I’ve compiled them here in the hopes that they will help motivate you in your writing endeavors or perhaps make you laugh. Enjoy!

-RB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now get back to writing!

How To Cope With Imposter Syndrome

First of all, I want to take some time to elaborate on how difficult it was for me to find the right cover art for this blog. What exactly does an imposter look like? What does someone with imposter syndrome look like? As most of you know, I use Canva to create a lot of my blog art. At first I searched for “imposter” but nothing relevant came up in the results. After that, I searched for things like “thief,” “poser,” “wannabe,” “disguise,” “fake,” “uncomfortable,” and “outsider.” None of these terms were giving me exactly what I was looking for and eventually I stumbled upon the current cover art when I searched for “outcast.”

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Wikipedia (I know, not the most reputable source but it’ll suffice for the sake of this post) defines Imposter Syndrome as follows:

“Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments, and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.[1] Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.[2] While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally.”

I just finished reading 52 Pep Talks for Writers by Grant Faulkner. Inside, his 21st “pep talk” is titled “Treating Imposter Syndrome.” Towards the beginning of the piece, he writes, “Authors are especially susceptible to imposter syndrome because writing is such a vexing labyrinth of self-doubt. What does it take to feel like the real thing? Writing every day? Finishing a book? Finding an agent? Publishing a book? Getting reviewed in the New York Times? Appearing on the Tonight Show? Have writer friends? Famous writer friends? Per Maya Angelou, even all of that sometimes doesn’t suffice.

Basically, it boils down to thinking that you’re a fraud, you’re going to be found out, and you’re minimizing your accomplishments.

Why do we have Imposter Syndrome?

It’s so easy for us to talk down to ourselves but we have other people talking down to us all the time. We’re brought down by society, our own friends, and our family.

I never really considered myself as having a low self-esteem. I always felt confident in my ability to write but at the same time I have a lot of moments of self-doubt and I think all writers struggle with that. At least a lot of us talk about it.

In Dr. Abigail Brenner’s post Why Do I Feel Like a Fraud? on Psychology Today, she poses questions to readers on why they might feel this way. Three topics she highlights are personal relationships, profession life and early upbringing.

Personal Relationships

Many who know me understand that I believe in the “private life,” something that people seem to not value these days. Besides my blog and Instagram, I stay away from social media. I don’t need to know who is dating who, who is getting divorced, who everyone is voting for along with their stance on every political issue, who is taking a shit at the dentist… you catch my drift. We live in a world where people no longer respect the bounds of privacy. We are a society that encourages voyeurism and encourages the sharing of too much information.

As such, my close, personal relationships are with three very select people. No one knows me better than those three in what I’d like to call “The Inner Circle.” There is an “Outer Circle” too that consists of perhaps twenty people but they are still held at arms length. Those three individuals in the “Inner Circle” are the only people in the world that I feel I can let go and truly be myself around. But even then, there are times I hesitate to say what I truly feel or mean due to fear of judgement.

It’s silly because they’ve never judged me before. In fact, that is how they go to that “Inner Circle” to begin with. But that fear is still there. Why? Probably my upbringing- done by a highly judgemental family.

Early Upbringing

I don’t feel like I can be myself around my own family. I always feel like I need to have my guard up when I visit them. Which is part of why I hate going to visit them. It’s emotionally and psychologically exhausting. It’s such a waste of time; it drains me and I don’t feel like it adds any meaning, value, or purpose to my life. After all, some of the most hurtful things about who I am, what I’ve done and what I haven’t done (to their standards) is what rings in my head most times. I grew up feeling like nothing I said had any value.

In Rachel Hollis’s bestseller, Girl, Wash Your Face, she mentions that as the youngest of four children, she was mostly ignored unless she did something good. I was also the youngest of four children and most often ignored and left to my own devises… unless I did something wrong.

When I first went to college, I was shocked when people stopped to listen to what I had to say. It took me awhile to get used to because I was so used to being talked over or ignored. Whenever I tell people that I’m not on good terms with my family, they want to know why. There’s no amount of explaining that I can do to articulate 32 years of feeling like you’re not appreciated… feeling that you’re an outsider in a family you were born into. If I truly wanted to patch up the relationship, I would but the problem is I don’t want to – I don’t care to.

To some people, family is everything. Their immediate response is that “you should patch things up.” To me, that is such a close-minded response. Not everyone’s family dynamic is the same. I know that there are shittier people out there. It could have been much worse but that doesn’t mean that bad things didn’t happen or horrible things weren’t said… Things that may affect me for the rest of my life.

Professional Life

No. I am not where I want to be with my career. Sometimes I look at my age and I think to myself, “Why wasn’t I more serious about such-and-such in college?” or “Why didn’t I see how important this one thing was and pursue it when I was younger?” We all have regrets even though we try not to. Even though I hate my current job, I recognize that without it there are many things I wouldn’t have learned… So many great people I wouldn’t have met. Whether I like it or not, it has shaped me into the person I am today.

In short, I work with imposter syndrome almost every day. Rarely, if ever, do I feel like I’m supposed to be right where I am. In Grant Faulkner’s closing remarks to his own Pep Talk he states, “Whatever you tell yourself is the truth.” He’s right there. The trust is what we make of it. That is easier said than done.

How do we cope with Imposter Syndrome?
Hold on to positive things.

I used to keep a word document filled with positive reviews of my writing. I called it “My Wall of Vanity.” The title itself suggests that I was ashamed at receiving praise for my writing… that I was being “vain” in rereading good reviews. Keeping a positive document like that is nothing to frown upon though. Those were real, organic reviews, written by people who didn’t know me from Timbuktu. I hope I still have it saved somewhere.

Stop the comparison trap

Another way to treat Imposter Syndrome is to stop comparing yourself to others. When I was on Facebook, that was all I did. I was part of many “writing” groups and often compared myself and my work to what others had done. If anything, that made me feel like more of a fraud. I kept thinking, “Why am I in a group with someone who has published 8 books?” or “Why am I with people who write 3,000 words a day on top of working a full-time job and being a parent?” Stop comparing yourself! Everyone does things differently and that’s OK.

Add value

For a few weeks now I’ve been thinking of writing a blog about Going Viral vs Adding Value. We’ve got too many people in this world seeking their 15 seconds of fame instead of trying to help others. As long as you as genuinely interested in adding value to others’ lives as opposed to seeking self gain, you’re not a fraud.

We all make mistakes. No one is perfect.

Making an error or being wrong about something doesn’t make you a “fraud.” Everyone is wrong several times in their life. Hell, I’m wrong about something at least 5 times a day… at least. And I’m far from perfect. Stop trying to do what others expect you to do and instead, do what you feel is right. Do what you feel is what you’re meant to do. No one can live your life but you.

What about you? Have you ever felt like a fake? An imposter? Please comment below with your experiences.

-RB

Suffering from Writer’s Block? Try 750words.com

Today I wanted to share with all of you a little tool I stumbled upon called 750words.com. I don’t remember how I cam across it but it has completely changed my writing habits, more so than NaNoWriMo. As most of you know, NaNoWriMo has the intention of helping you create a writing habit – to write every day. While I have participated for many years, I could never develop that habit. Maybe I was trying to do too much at one time? Maybe 30 days just wasn’t long enough for me? Who knows?

The snapshot above was taken a few days ago. I normally find that I can write 750 words in 11 minutes. However, there have been days I’ve been exhausted and in order to not break the streak, I used Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate my words. I’m not ashamed. The words still got written! But that is why it says that my record time is 5 minutes because I talk twice as fast as I type.

I tried everything.

I was the queen of procrastination – I read blogs about forming a writing habit. Searching online, I sought out apps for productivity. I read books on writing. None of it ever caught on. I really thought that I was a lost cause and despite the fact that I wanted to spend my lifetime writing, that I was doomed for failure because I was lazy and just couldn’t motivate myself to get my butt in high gear! …Until I was introduced to 750 words.com.

When I first signed up, I had actually forgotten that I signed up. It wasn’t until months later when I was cleaning out my inbox (a minimalist cleaning ritual) that rediscovered the site. I’m so glad I did.

Due to badges like the ones above, there is a sort of reward system for keeping your streak going. I think it goes up to 1000 or 2000 day streaks for the badges – in other words, pretty freakin’ long.

Monthly Challenge

You can even sign up for their monthly challenge to write 750words a day for an entire month. If you succeed in writing every day that month, you are put on the “Wall of Awesomeness.” If you miss one day, you are placed on the “Wall of Shame.” And every one will know! How humiliating. It’s funny how little badges and rewards like these can keep us going!

 

As you can see from the picture above, there are all sorts of statistics that show up after you’ve written. This post won’t cover all of them but it’s very interesting to see and compare things like what you were writing about vs time it took to write it. Don’t get me wrong, the first time I saw this demographic I thought, “This isn’t accurate!” But the more I wrote, the more I noticed that it is actually pretty insightful and on point.

It appears that this particular day I was feeling affectionate, upset and self-important and concerned mostly about success, work and death. Not sure what that says about me.

What else can it do?

Your writing is completely private. No one else can see it but you can go back and view old entries if you’d like. Also, if you donate you earn points which are represented by coffee cup icons. Cups allow you to post testimonials and encourage other writers. Another feature is the metadata. In every post you can track things like where you were writing that day, what your energy level was, stress level, how much alcohol or caffeine was in your system, etc. Do it enough and the website will help you track the differences in your writing when you have 3 red bulls instead of 2 whiskeys.

Overall, it’s a pretty unique site. You have the option of becoming a member for $5/month and trust me when I say that it’s completely worth it. Thanks to 750words.com, I cannot miss a day of writing. And the writing can be about anything! You don’t have to spend it working on your novel, you can rant and rave about work, traffic, your children OR you can dream of lying on a beach or hiking in the mountains. You could write a short fiction piece or a few poems. The choice is yours!

So if you’re like me and you struggle with writing every day, I challenge you to 750words.com! Need some perspective? This blog post that you just finished reading it 750 words. If I can do it, anyone can!

Happy writing!

-RB

Creativity Blocked? Try Writing from Bed.

It never fails – I could be so exhausted that I feel like I’m going to pass out. However, when I crawl into bed, my mind is racing with all sorts of thoughts, most of them fictional situations! Some of us get our best ideas when we first wake up or are about to drift off to sleep. It makes sense, after all our brain is either entering or leaving the sleep states where dreams overtake us. So why not try writing from bed?

It’s not a completely foreign concept. Many famous writers such as Truman Capote, George Orwell, Mark Twain and Vladimir Nabokov have done it. Even Ernest Hemingway would sometimes write from bed. He also wrote standing up. Edith Wharton wrote from bed because in bed she didn’t have to wear a corset. While some authors wrote in bed by choice, others were confined to it by illness. No matter, these literary geniuses were able to tackle their prose. So just what are the benefits or working from bed?

What made me start writing from bed?

It all goes back to when I lived at home with my parents. I first became interested in writing when I was a teenager in high school. Keeping to my room a lot, my desk was often filled with clutter and my computer, so there wasn’t a lot of space to lay out my work and write. (I wasn’t a minimalist back then!) The only surface I had in my room where I could set out all my notes and work on my stories, was my bed. I kept to my room to do my writing because it was the only place I could escape the world.

Growing up with three brothers, privacy was a necessity. We also had a lot of pets, so my room was the only logical choice in which to focus and concentrate. Most of my school work and studying through high school and college was done on that bed. It made perfect sense to me that writing should be done there too. Now that I’m much older and no longer at home, I still see the benefits of writing/working from bed.

Benefits of writing from bed…
  • You’re relaxed and tranquil. Let the stress of the day continue to melt away as you delve into your writing.
  • It’s convenient. You don’t even have to put on pants if you don’t want to! It still helps me to get dressed, wash my face, and all that good stuff though. Otherwise, I’m too tempted to go back to sleep. If you’re writing in the morning, I’d go ahead and make the bed so you’re not tempted to drift off. If you’re writing at night, it may help you sleep better to go ahead and slip under the covers, get comfortable, churn out a few hundred words then get to sleep.
  • Hypnagogia. Yes, it’s a real word. It refers to the state between fully asleep and fully awake and it’s where we get some of our most creative ideas. By writing from bed, it’s really easy to slip back into this state and explore creativity.

Sometimes I write long hand like in the cover photo. Other times, I write on my laptop using my portable and adjustable writing desk.

Still not convinced? I use this portable and adjustable writing desk to make it easier on my neck and back. I can choose to recline, sit up or move elsewhere. The desk itself is light and folds up easily to fit into my carry-on luggage for trips.

Arguments against writing from bed…

It’s often preached that there is not room for “work” in the bedroom. After all, the bedroom is for relaxing, going to sleep, and monkey business. Many modern blog warn against having technology in the bedroom like televisions and laptops. However, you don’t have to bring your laptop in there if you don’t want to. Instead, write by hand (another way that helps unblock creativity- but that’s another post!)

So if you’re looking for a new way to boost your creativity but feel stuck in a rut, you don’t have to venture out to a library or a noisy coffee shop for a change of pace. Instead, try out your bed!

Happy writing!