In one of our online writers’ group meetings, we discussed writing challenges. When you strike problems with a piece of writing it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and procrastinate.
Alternatively, you might give up completely. Several authors admitted that they had unfinished books littering their computer hard drives.
Does this sound like you?
How to overcome your writing challenges
No matter how much you’ve written before, each piece of writing is unique and presents unique challenges.
That said, with the following easy tricks in your writing toolbox you can meet any challenge.
1. Describe your challenge (in writing) as clearly as you can
All writing tends to morph, because our brain works via associations. Before you know it, instead of sticking to your topic, you’ve gone off on a tangent.
When writing fiction, a minor character takes over your novel. If you’re writing nonfiction, you lose your inspiration and your writing turns into a disconnected mess.
In a paragraph of five sentences or less, describe your writing challenge as clearly as possible.
Weirdly, sometimes a simple description is all it takes for a challenge to become surmountable: a solution suddenly appears.
2. Tell your audience about your challenge
Imagine one person from your target audience as clearly as you can.
Write an email message to this person. (You can do it in your mail program if that makes it seem more real to you.)
Start your message with: Dear Bob, my problem is…
This sounds like a psychological trick. It is and it works.
3. Get back on track: remember readers
Fiction is entertainment, so when you’re writing fiction you want your readers to feel:
- Fear—horror fiction;
It’s easy to forget that your fiction is entertainment. You’re writing a romance novel and suddenly realize that you’re on Chapter Ten, but your hero appeared once in Chapter Two and hasn’t appeared since.
On the other hand, if you’re writing nonfiction, you want readers to learn something, or discover how they can solve a challenge of their own.
Here’s a solution.
Write two sentences about what you want readers to feel (or do) every day.
Yes, every day. It keeps your writing on track. It’s horribly easy to forget readers and goals while you’re engrossed with writing.
4. When you’re stuck, describe your challenge, and research solutions
Research is tempting. Some authors enjoy research so much that they dive down endless rabbit holes.
If you worry that you’ll become too engrossed with researching, use this process (write it down):
- Describe what you need as clearly as you can, in a paragraph or two;
- Set a time limit and stick to it;
- After your research session, describe the solution you found in another paragraph. No solution? Schedule an additional research session for another day.
Writing challenges: find one challenge today and solve it
Everyone has writing challenges; they’re normal, and you can overcome them. However, you may have developed a bad habit, like procrastination. As soon as you meet a challenge, you procrastinate.
To break the habit, ACT.
Make a list of writing challenges, right now.
Then immediately choose one challenge and use one or more of the above tricks to overcome it.
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