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Is Your Writing Stuck? Ease the Pain. Just Start Writing!

just start writingI agreed to write about Buddhism and the environment for a new site over at EdenKeeper.org. It’s a topic that cuts to the bone for me.

Which has meant I had trouble getting started with the writing. Stuck would be the proper term. Not because I lack something to say, but because it’s damn painful to go there. And who likes pain?

This is the good sort of pain, the self-revelatory pain that can make writing a such a soulful journey… but only if I actually write it.

Of course, another reason I’m stuck is I’m afraid I won’t write it well enough. Yes, me, the pro, has jammed up with some sort of vague notion of good writing. I know better, but…

The other day, when I knew I didn’t have much more than an hour, I began.

What a relief!

It’s was a pretty good beginning too.

How I actually start writing

Here’s pretty much what that start looked like.

When I sat down at my computer I fiddled around some. I looked at email – using an east coast client as an excuse… maybe he had emailed before I got up.

My beloved cat, MzTiz came head banging my leg letting me know she wanted more breakfast. So I got up and put more food in her bowl.

I even did the dishes from last night! I know I’m stuck if I’d rather do dishes than write.

Drying my hands, and chuckling at myself, I came back to the computer, took a deep breath, opened a file and began. I typed out what I thought might become my first sentence:

I’m really worried about the environment.

Not a great sentence, I’ll admit, but at least it’s a complete sentence. It states a fact. I really am worried about the way we’ve transhed the planet and what it means for my grandkids and for wild salmon, and elephants and blue starfish. Obviously I could go on, and I did.

Once I started writing it was fairly easy to get a rough draft. Over the next two days I did the editing and submitted it.

Feeling stuck is not always procrastination

Years ago I realized that in some ways part of my mind is always writing. As soon as I had agreed to do this particular piece, somewhere in the background my mind began thinking about the article. This is not, for me, a totally conscious process. To be sure, during the time the idea is conceived and I actually sit down to do the writing I do think about it… sporadically. Sometimes I’ll catch myself thinking about it in the shower, or while driving or while doing those darn dishes that won’t stay washed.

It feels, however, like most of the creative work goes on below my awareness.

Even the dithering and postponing seems to be part of the process.

It can be tricky. When I first started writing I didn’t know there was a difference between procrastination and letting a piece yeast while my mind works out the creative part.

I know when I’m procrastinating and you do too I’ll bet

What I discovered is that I do know when I’m procrastinating, although I’d rather pretend I’m letting creativity happen. All I have to do is get still for a moment and ask myself if I’m dragging my feet to avoid writing or not. If I’m willing to be totally honest with myself, I know which is the truth.

Sometimes procrastination means there’s something wrong with the idea. Often it means it’s not developed enough. Creating a purpose statement will usually solve that problem. It’s not unusual for a writing project to get redefined in the beginning.

The cure’s the same, no matter what – start writing

In most cases, it doesn’t really matter if you’ve been procrastinating or letting a project develop in your mind. The solution to getting it done is, wait for it, start writing! Even if all you can do in the moment is to open a file and write a single, awkward sentence, that usually is enough and you’ll find you can start writing again.

The article I was stuck on? It’s done and titled A Meditation on the Environment.

How do you get unstuck in your writing? Got questions about it?

Writing is, of course, an integral part of your freelance writing business. That’s why I’ve created a special series on solutions to freelance writing problems. It’s free, but you do have to sign up.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer







{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Avtar

    Anne ….. thanks for your constant motivation ….. getting stuck is quite usual ….. ‘I am really worried about the environment’ is another good punch line ….. and writing about the weather outside ….. gives a good start at times when I am stuck. Thanks

  • I love this line, Anne: in some ways part of my mind is always writing. I realized that is true for me as well.

    You are one of the bravest people I know in sharing self-revelatory pain. Makes me want to just start writing. Thank you for that, Anne.

    • oooh… love the idea that something I say here would make you ‘just start writing.’ Go for it. And thanks.

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