What Makes You Stop Writing?

Stop_symbol_plate_238801_lThe other morning, I had a lot on my mind.  Tasks to finish, things to get organized before a trip, stuff to do.  I rose early, as I always do (my eyes pop open at 5:30 pretty much routinely), got my coffee and went to the computer.  I looked at email but didn't answer it because I was going to get right to my writing.

Except I didn't.

Something caught my eye on the internet and I clicked on it.  And from there I saw something else that interested me.  And on and on.

After a few minutes, I stopped and told myself I really should get to my writing.  But then there was that other fascinating headline….

And after a few more minutes, I realized my mistake that morning: I knew I was overwhelmed with to-dos in my brain, and even so I didn't have a clear plan for writing.

If I'd known what I wanted to work on (one of my good curses at the moment seems to be too many projects) I would have had a better chance of getting to it.  And, if I'd realized ahead of time that my brain was a bit overloaded, I might have thought things through a bit more.

All this made me start thinking about what stops me from writing.  Because once you know your enemy, you can figure out how to fight it.  My anti-writing enemies are:

1.  Overwhelm.  As above.

2. Tiredness.  When I'm worn out, my brain doesn't work well.  Sometimes I have the actual time to write, but not the mental energy.  Writing requires hard mental work.

3.  Other work.  As in, the necessity to make a living.  Oh yeah, that.  I'm lucky in that I love my other work–teaching and coaching and some ghostwriting.  But it is still not my own writing. (Though when I dream big dreams and envision my life devoted solely to my writing, with no teaching or coaching it makes me happy for about two seconds.  Then I realize I'd really miss it.)

4.  Laziness.  Sometimes, honestly, I just don't feel like writing.  I want to loll on the couch and watch TV or sit on the back deck with a glass of wine.

5.  Fear.  Of what?  Of everything.  That my work won't be good enough.  That it will be really good. That I won't be able to write it the way I want to.  That I'll go in so deep that I won't want to come back.  That people won't like my work.  That they will.  That….well, you get the picture.

6.  Distraction.  As in, mindless internet surfing.  (Do we still call it that? Sounds a bit archaic now.)I think we all battle this.  We've got so much information coming at us all day every day.  But I tend more towards distraction when any of the above listed elements are present.

Those are my top six that stop me from writing.   What are yours?

Photo by brokenarts.

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10 Responses to What Makes You Stop Writing?

  1. J.D. 06/07/2014 at 04:24 #

    What are my top six? Mine are the same as yours. To a T. Fear, number 5, is probably the biggie. Cowardice may underlie all the other boogers on that list. I can overcome tiredness, distraction, all that other stuff, if I wasn’t secretly looking for an out. Sara Bareilles got it right–sort of. Be brave. An easy thing to demand of others. Well you can kiss my ass, Sara. What about you! Why don’t you be brave? Uh, wait. Was she singing about herself?

  2. Zan Marie 06/07/2014 at 06:20 #

    Hey! Where’s “All of the Above”? You’ve been reading my mind again, Charlotte! 😉

  3. Charlotte Dixon 06/07/2014 at 07:11 #

    I imagine she was singing to herself. I think we all suffer from fear to one extent to another, don’t you? Of course, sometimes I look at big stars or celebrities and think they must not have any fear at all. Ha! They are just better at dealing with it. I think.

  4. Charlotte Dixon 06/07/2014 at 07:12 #

    I love it! Thanks, Zan Marie!

  5. Milli Thornton (@fearofwriting) 06/09/2014 at 20:27 #

    Great way of looking at it! If you know your enemy, you can figure out how to fight it. Let me see. My top six would be: (1) my other work (2) fear of not being able to connect with the same vibes I had the last time I worked on my WIP (3) tiredness at night, when I “should” have more time to write (4) not being a morning person.

    Look at that. It’s night-time and I can’t even think of six. But it doesn’t matter—those four are quite enough. Now I know my four enemies. I’ll dream up some ways to fight!

  6. Charlotte Dixon 06/09/2014 at 21:55 #

    LOL, Milli!  These are six, um, I mean, four good reasons!  And yes, now that you know them, you can fight them.

  7. Suzanne Robertson 06/11/2014 at 06:03 #

    You nailed it, Charlotte! When I’m about to sit down to write is the only time anything in my house gets cleaned.

  8. Charlotte Dixon 06/11/2014 at 06:07 #

    I always say if my house is clean you know my writing is not going well.

  9. MarethMBotha 06/12/2014 at 01:57 #

    I’ve worked harder at writing than I ever did while being gainfully employed – longer hours, re-writes and edits, checking my work all the time; being part of an authors’ site reading&commenting prospective authors’ work – for two and a half long years. Finally I had an opportunity to get my unsolicited manuscript onto the hallowed editor’s desk at the HarperCollins Children’s Editor and seven months later, still waiting for a review, I’m in limbo. I force myself to work (but that ugly fear is lurking in the back of my mind all the time – what if I’m not good enough, that sort of thing) and now, I’ve paid for a final edit to self-publish hopefully by August and the fear is back. What if no one likes my story? Then all negative people will be back reminding me AGAIN that I’ve been wasting my time. So,I think it’s this fear of failure which strikes me at the core of my being, making me weak. It’s difficult to fight such a strong, unseen enemy. If I knew HOW to control this emotion, the rest is no problem. I love writing and seeing characters slowly but surely coming alive – that is a driving force to work into the small hours of the night, having espresso to keep me from being too tired to continue.

  10. Charlotte Dixon 06/16/2014 at 06:45 #

    Hi Mareth, Boy do I sympathize with you! When I was submitting my novel to agents I sometimes wouldn’t hear back from them, ever. So, a couple of suggestions–can you send your manuscript elsewhere as well? There’s nothing to prevent you from soliciting other editors and agents. It sounds as if you’ve worked long and hard on it and that it is very ready! And, please do your best to set aside those negative thoughts. Make a deal with your inner critic that it can come out and tell you what’s wrong with your writing once you are in the editing stage but not until then. We all worry about what others think or will think–and it is wasted energy. It sounds like you are a very passionate writer and I hope that continues! Charlotte

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