How many of us have sat in front of a blank sheet of paper? How many of us can identify with crumpled up pieces of paper? How many of us have suffered from writer’s block?
I have. I went through years of writer’s block. I tried and tried to get words down on the page. For the most part unsuccessfully. It was brutal. Ideas were in my head. Characters were talking to me. But there was a huge disconnect going on from my brain to the keyboard. Can any of you identify with that? I hope not, but I suspect I’m not alone in what I went through. Sad to say, but it happens to most writers at one time or another.
But I continued to try to write. There was a lot more crumpled and discarded paper going on.
Oh, I’d have brief moments of success where I’d start a new project and get maybe 50 or 75 pages into it before doubting myself and my abilities and putting it aside. The inability to write was painful. And frustrating.
It’s heartbreaking to have a passion for something and you just cannot sustain it. I had gotten to the point where I had almost resigned myself to the fact that I’d never write again.
But before giving up, I decided to confront my demons once more. Could I beat this thing?
I’m happy to say I have.
So how did I do it?
First, I searched for a writing coach/mentor. Someone who would hold me accountable. Someone I’d pay for the service. I’d tried to do the whole accountability thing with friends, but I had no penalty factor in play. With a paid coach, if I wimped out, I’d lose money.
Second, I set goals. I know I harp on goal setting a lot. But if you set realistic goals for whatever you’re trying to accomplish and steps to reach those goals, it really does work.
Third, I paired with a dear writing friend and asked her for help and accountability too. And this time this did work for me. We do daily check-ins on what we actually get accomplished. We also review our monthly goals with a FaceTime meeting and assess how we did for the past month. And declare our goals for the coming month. This helps to keep me pushing forward.
Because my writer’s block was so strong and of such a lengthy duration, my final step was to work with a therapist to get to the root of my problem. My issue stemmed from the loss of my husband. Things are sometimes connected in ways we’d never think they could be.
And all of my efforts have paid off. I now write every day without fail. I’ve completed two full length mystery novels already this year. I have plotted out two more. And I have concrete ideas for several more books and series. My goal is by year end to have five books for sale. I’m well on my way.
My latest novel is the second book in The River City Mysteries, set in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Your Time is Up. It gives me great joy to see readers buying it and to hear from many who take the time to write to tell me how much they are enjoying it.
The first book in the series, Your Eight O’clock is Dead, is enjoying a new cover and new life as readers discover the story and the series all over again.
What’s stopping you today from pursuing your dreams? I suggest you sit with that for a bit and see if you can write down anything that comes to mind – no matter how far-fetched it might be. I know I discounted a lot of things that really were connected if I’d only taken the time to figure them out.
Do you set goals for yourself? Do you have someone with who you are accountable? Do you review your goals and revise them as needed to get where you want to go? Are your goals realistic? Unrealistic goals will sideline you quicker than anything. Are you prepared to do the hard work? Perseverance can take you far in writing and in life. Giving up or giving in gets you no where.
The key to your success is waiting for you. Pick it up. Figure things out. Get a plan. Implement your plan with concrete actions. Reach for your dreams each and every day. And never give up.
I wish each of you success and happiness in whatever you do.