I love writing, but as with anything in life, stuff gets in the way. Here are five obstacles I face when trying to complete a book, and how I get over them.
- Time Management: I’m a terrible time manager, although during the past couple of years I’ve been getting better. I now use a spiral bound calendar and it has helped me tremendously. Who knew? Fun fact: Ruby Glick in The Teacher’s Bride also discovers how useful calendars and planners can be. (That might be a wee bit autobiographical.)
- Inspiration: Sometimes the well runs dry. When this happens, I have to mix up my routine a bit—read different books or get out of the writing cave or catch up on current events. I love reading about psychology and counseling, which helps me come up with ideas. I try pay attention to the world around me more when I start running out of inspirational steam. Fun fact: when I was in college, I majored in psychology before switching to teaching. The two disciplines often overlap.
- Writing the first draft: Oy. This is the hardest part of writing for me, and I wish I could say that I have a tip or trick to make this easier, but I don’t. I do find that trying to get in at least 2,000 words in the morning helps. I don’t always make that goal, but when that happens, I still have plenty of word count already in the story. I also remind myself that the first draft is just getting the story out, and not worry about editing what I’m writing. That’s for later. Fun fact: there is no fun fact about writing the first draft. It’s plain torture.
- Distractions: I’m a bit ADD, and I get distracted very easily. This especially happens when I am writing the first draft. I’d rather do anything, even housework (gasp!) than write. Then there’s the good distractions—phone calls with friends, crochet, going out to lunch, doing my nails, taking a nap…it’s endless, really. I deal with this by “rewarding” myself with a fun distraction when I reach my word count for the day. Fun fact: To keep from sitting in a chair for hours at a stretch, which in the past has wrecked my back, I write for thirty minutes then get up and do something, often a quick chore. Breaking up the writing time in chunks helps with concentration, too.
- Nerves: After almost twenty years of writing and over fifty published books, you would think that I had this writer’s anxiety thing licked. Not so fun fact: I don’t. I want every book I write to be my best, and I always have the reader in mind when I write. I never want to disappoint anyone. But the reality is that you can’t please everyone, and when I remind myself of that, it helps settle my nerves—for the most part. Prayer also helps. Trusting God when I’m writing a story is key to keep the nerves at bay.
Question: How do you overcome obstacles that get in your way?