Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Writer’s Block and Writer’s Laziness

You often hear about writers having to overcome writer’s block, that it’s one of the hardest parts of writing. And, sure, I can agree with that, to an extent. But for me, the hardest part by far? Writer’s laziness.

You know, it’s that feeling you get when you mostly know what you’re going to write next, but then you decide to check your email or make iced tea or read Alan Sepinwall’s latest brilliant takedown on last night’s Community episode.*

Maybe you’ll be “productive” and try to research a little, but then you’re knee-deep in studying the adolescent psychology book you got (Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection) or a Google search of “what is it like to drown?” leads you to a video about how to spot drowning victims and when you learn that most children look like they’re playing and can drown in seconds with no one watching, you think of your dear sweet nephew and how he likes the ocean and you panic and email EVERYONE IN YOUR FAMILY that they have to watch this video.** And then, oh my gosh! When did it get to be lunch time?

Writer’s laziness, my friends. And it can be deadlier than writer’s block, by far.

Writer’s block, in my mind, is when you reach a challenge in your writing. You have no idea what to write. Maybe it’s a lack of ideas or a too-complex plot, but it’s something to be overcome. I like challenges. I like sitting down with a pen and paper and figuring out what exactly is happening in my novel, how to structure it just right and keep the pace going and the tension up. There’s sort of a nice struggle in writer’s block. Even when it’s frustrating to be in the midst of it, it’s deeply satisfying to work out some plot or character problem and get the writing juices flowing again.

Writer’s laziness isn’t a lack of ideas--it’s a lack of energy.  You’re not not writing because you don’t know what you want to say. It’s because the sheer energy required to type type type it out makes you want to cry from boredom.

I hate writer’s laziness. These are the few things I’ve found to actually help:

1.      Set small goals Write in spurts. Fifteen minutes, then take a break for five minutes. Repeat.
2.      Put the “prod” in productivity I am in love with the web program “Write or Die,” in which you have to keep writing or the program will automatically turn red, play Hanson music, and start deleting what you’ve already written.
3.      Write a blog post Heh.
4.      Outline At times, a slowdown in writing means you don’t like what you’re writing. And if you don’t enjoy writing it, people definitely won’t enjoy reading it. Even though you know what should come next, revisit (or create) your outline. Two wordy, meandering chapters might work better as one tight, action-packed chapter.
5.      Give in to the laziness There are days when no amount of flogging will get your brain in motion--it just needs to rest. But instead of randomized procrastination techniques (I’m looking at you, little space under the fridge that’s always dusty), give yourself a task to accomplish, like taking a run, cooking a meal, drawing--something that can empty your mind a little so that you can get back to your writing fresh.

Have any other tips for combating writer’s laziness? Let me know! And happy writing.

*Did anyone else watch it? Asian Annie? That's my college friend, Irene! She is one of the funniest, tiniest people you will ever meet and it was so fun seeing her pop up on the teevee. 
**Please watch it, too: Writing can save lives!

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