Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Writing--What's Holding You Back?

You see other people writing and selling manuscripts. You're intelligent. You're creative. You would like to write for publication, too. What's holding you back, and what can you do about it?

No doubt, different potential writers struggle with various impediments to writing. Often people lament, "If only I had more time, then I could write." Interestingly, though, I notice that some mothers with large families manage to sell manuscripts regularly while other people with fewer obligations don't. What's the difference? Although life can sometimes erect temporary roadblocks to writing, I observe that successful writers utilize their time differently. That is, they don't have more hours in the day than their friends, but they use even spare minutes effectively. One of the best writing tips I ever received is also one of the simplest: When you sit down to write, do NOT check email first. If I violate that principle, I can kiss writing time goodbye, since there are certain to be emails to answer, new comments and photos on Facebook, fascinating blog titles just waiting for my eyes... By disciplining yourself to deal with email during non-writing time, you will preserve precious minutes you need to create.

Entertainment can be another barrier for anyone on the way to publication. Certainly, a little relaxation and entertainment can be refreshing, but do you truly need to turn on a television every day? Why? Even 30-minute news programs are stuffed with things that are not news and not deserving of your time. (Stop and think: If in the next 24 hours absolutely nothing important were to happen in the world, would local and national newscasters cancel their programs for the day? No way. The show will go on, even if it's a fluff-filled waste of your time.) By being willing to miss sitcoms, movies, and other forms of entertainment, you will gain chunks of writing time you didn't know you had.

Do you have a demanding job? Outside responsibilities at church or in your community? Even if so, chances are you could redeem minutes for writing that you currently fritter away. My two published novels were basically written a few paragraphs at time. Sometimes I squeezed in a few minutes during the early morning. Often I would eat lunch quickly and then hurry to my computer at the office, where I plugged in my flash drive and advanced my story one or two pages. Occasionally I added a few more paragraphs (or revised earlier ones) in the evening before bed. Sure, I would prefer to have large blocks of time for writing, but I don't, so I take advantage of whatever minutes I can scrape together.

"But I can't do any of that," some people respond. "I can't live or write that way." If that's what you're thinking right now, then congratulations! You may have just discovered an important truth about yourself--that deep down inside, you're simply not a writer. And that's not a bad thing. In fact, many people have felt a sense of liberation in the realization that, although they are just as intelligent as writers and enjoy reading, writing for publication simply isn't their calling.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul went on record as saying, "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" He had no choice. Preaching was inside him. The Gospel inside his head and his heart had to come out, and he couldn't remain silent. Similarly, a person with a true writer's heart feels much the same: he or she simply must write (whether fiction or nonfiction), even if it's just a little bit each day.

Do you truly possess the heart of a writer? Do you yearn to record ideas for others to read? If so, I encourage you to outsmart the obstacles holding you back. Find ways to take charge of your life and create!

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