Going-to-the-Sun RoadI’ve been working on my first novel for a couple of weeks now as part of my June Writing Month goal.  And it’s been challenging, if not more so than I expected.  I’ve been meeting my daily word requirement–somewhat (okay, it’s not always 1000 words, I may fall short and land somewhere around 800 words.  As I mentioned before, the goal was to start writing my novel, which I’ve been putting off mainly because of time.  So, in that sense, I may not hit that magic number of 30,ooo words by June 30.   In any case, I’m happy that I’ve been writing, developing my story, and getting to know my characters.

One of the challenges I’ve been dealing with has been writer’s block.  And as a someone who writes magazine article on health matters, I know that when I hit a roadblock in my writing it has more to do with what’s going on in my personal and professional life than anything having to do with figuring out dialogue or working out the details in a scene.  Because frankly all of these details will be reworked again and again in revisions anyway.  So, what’s the deal with the blinking cursor on the blank page?

Well, it has a lot to do with a couple of things?  And most of these issues I’ve been able to get a handle on (or at least I’m aware of).  I think it’s important to have a roadmap that shows you where you’re problem areas are and what you’re doing to get around them. It’s just like driving and you come across a road that’s been closed off, you just don’t sit there and wait for the problem to work itself out.  You work out a plan to get to where you need to be when it comes to your writing goals.

Here are the key areas I’ve found that have contributed to my writer’s block and what I’ve been doing to map out solutions:

Designate a Time to Write: And I mean just writing my novel.  Not checking email intermittently, researching a location I’ve mentioned in my book, or answering phone calls.  This is why I’ve decided to switch my writing hours to first thing in the morning.  I also have freelance assignments that I’m working on.

However, if I don’t put myself first then this book will never get done.  I’ve found that switching my novel-writing activities to priority No. 1 has been helpful.  So far, this seems to be working out well for me, and it’s improved my writing flow–writing chi, as I like to put it.

Previously, I was writing later in the evening.  Frankly, I was just too mentally drained by that time of the day.  While writing in the morning may be a good switch for me, other writers may find that late nights are the way to go for them.  Basically, you just have to try out a few different times to determine what works best with your schedule (and personality).

Take a Chill Pill: Writing a book has been a lifelong dream and now I’m actually doing it.  I know it’s hardly in any publishable form.  But I’m working toward a goal.  The writing process can be frustrating, and any writer who takes a leap of faith to begin to write a book should be proud.

So take the frustration away from your writing.  Your fears and anxieties about being well-received as a writer are honest feelings.  I do deep breathing and yoga to calm me down.  It allows me to focus and release my pent-up frustrations and anxieties, which are most likely contributing to my writer’s block.

The Policy on Honesty: Issues in your personal and career life can mask itself as writer’s block.  Take a moment to examine your feelings and assess what’s been bothering you lately.  Are you off your game when  speaking with a particular client or co-worker?  Are there any unresolved issues at home that you’ve been avoiding?  Sometimes talking things out with the person involved is helpful or discussing the issue with someone you trust can shed an enlightening perspective on the matter.  And for issues that are more difficult to resolve seeking the help of a professional can offer therapeutic options to get you and your writing back on track.  Getting to the core of life’s matters can help you handle your writing issues.  Maybe working through these issues can even provide you with a new idea for your book.

Become Your Own Cheerleader: Writing a book isn’t an overnight process.    And although recent buzz surrounding John Locke’s success with How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! might light a fire in some writers, I’d say this isn’t a route in book publishing often traveled.  So, in the meantime celebrate each milestone no matter how small you think it is. By celebrating your successes you create a positive atmosphere for writing that is fueled by you.  I try to generate joys from within while writing my book and that’s helped me to clear up my writing chi as well.

Whether one of my characters enjoys a victorious moment while bumping into an old flame who dumped her, or I’ve worked through a difficult scene, I appreciate the smallest things in my writing process.  Because it’s been helpful in boosting my morale and drive.