How Do Writers Get Unstuck?

“There is probably no hell for authors in the next world—they suffer so much from critics in this one.” ~ Christian Nestell Bovee

If you are stuck, are you saying things like this about your manuscript?

• This has become so disorganized that the outline makes no sense.
• I can’t seem to finish.
• There’s something critical missing.
• I’ve been stuck for so long that I can’t seem to get going again.
• Every time I think about working on it, I put it off.
• I think my manuscript has great stuff in it, but I don’t know who would want to publish or buy it.
• I make strides on it once in a while, but I have trouble putting consistent time into it.

These problems are neither unique nor insurmountable. The fact is: books continue to be published every day—190,000 a year. So take heart, it’s not just you! Many people don’t know how to begin writing a book, let alone completing, publishing and marketing it.

This 190,000 figure should be taken as a rough guide because this doesn’t take into account the huge amount of books of local history, course textbooks, or other books that don’t require ISBN numbers.

Thanks to the invention of digital printing, we’re free to get just one or one-thousand copies of our own books printed, so whereas once the publishing industry was akin to an exclusive club where publishers thought they were gods, new authors, like us, can authorize ourselves.

WHAT IF THERE WERE NO EXCUSES?

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” ~ Dale Carnegie

First, you need to think about what has been stopping you from making forward progress. If you have stopped making progress on your book project, do any of these excuses sound familiar?

• I’ve lost track of the big picture. Every time I sit down to write, I get bogged down in the details and I’m not sure if what I’m writing is relevant.
• My life is full of distractions. I need someone to keep me focused and push me forward.
• I know what I know, and others have assured me that my knowledge is valuable, but I’m not sure how to pull it all together into a book.
• I need to focus on earning and don’t have time to write.
• My mate thinks writing isn’t the best use of my time when our mortgage needs to be paid, and the kids need dental work, etc.

These problems need not stop you. Published authors aren’t really any different from anyone else; they’re just audacious. People who write (or make any kind of art, for that matter) often have family and financial obligations. Think about Nabokov, the author of Lolita, et al., he had seven children and an ill wife. He did most of his writing in the bathtub (the only room in the house where he could be alone in relative quiet).

J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, as everyone knows, lived in her car and flopped on couches of various friends due to financial woes. Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison both had financial distress and children to tend to and yet, both made time to write. Morrison swears her first two books were written on her kitchen table between meals or before going off to work.

I try to remember this warning given to me by author Barbara Sher, “A dream without action will make you crazy and action without a dream is a nightmare.” Another trick that helps me get unstuck is to take the focus off myself and commit to my would-be readers. After I make the mental commitment to completing my manuscript, I feel the momentum that helps me turn my dreams (of becoming an author) into a reality.

Subscribe to my blog (up in the far right corner on this page); it’s full of tips to jumpstart your creativity. Learn new tricks of prolific writers and memoirists every week with my help. Such guidance will keep your book project at the top of your mind and inspire you to get your book done sooner rather than later. Stay inspired by reading auto/biographies and memoirs of other writers.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Why don’t you take up my offer to have a complimentary sample session to see what we might create together. Call today to set up a 30-minute appointment: 206.617-8832 or pick a package.

Embrace Your Inner Magician

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