Tag Archives: solutions to writer’s block

Thoughts on Writing and Blank Pages

It’s been difficult for me to get to my new manuscript and I realize September is gone and the first draft is still sitting, almost untouched next to my computer and although the bones of the story are in place, I have a lot more polishing to do before it is complete.

Why do writers sometimes stall out? I can’t speak for everybody, but here are my reasons:

1. Reading

I am currently reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami on my new Amazon Kindle and I can’t put it down. Past experience has taught me that when I am deep into my own manuscript, I have to discipline myself to put away all pleasure reading until I am tucked into bed and the day’s work is done. In fact, it’s not such a bad idea to put all reading aside while working on a manuscript. If imagination is finite, it’s better I give all of mine to my own creative process and sacrifice reading for pleasure, at least for a short period of time.

2. Sleep

I can’t write if I am sleep deprived and I’ve realized that I’ve going to bed late and getting up early. So it’s time to start refusing dinner invites, etc… and hitting the sack at a decent hour. This may seem obvious but it is not always easy to do.

3. Exercise

Well, this has gone completely by the wayside. No more excuses! Ski fit begins next week and taking a daily walk will help both my mind and body. My excuse over the last month has been that I just don’t have the time, but I realize I don’t have to go for a two-hour bike ride; half an hour is better than nothing.

4. Friends

I love my friends, but I need to be a lot firmer about my working hours. Just because I work at home, doesn’t mean I have time to talk on the phone, go shopping or visit between the hours of 8 -3pm. So, on that note, it’s time to return to cafe writing. I can get a lot done in three hours if I am just not available. It’s up to me to set the guidelines on this one, and I just have not been doing it.

5. Family

At this stage in a manuscript the house will be messy, dinner might not happen and those tomatoes outside may die on the vine. The cat will be fed because she is incapable of cooking her own meals. Everyone else is. I’m just saying…

6. Grant Writing

Thank God that is done! It takes almost as long to apply for a grant as it does to outline a new novel. Finger’s crossed that this time a little money comes my way…

7. Excuses

No more for me! I’ve got commitments which I will live up to, but starting now, I will be unavailable for four hours every single day until this manuscript is ready to send off to my agent.

This post might prove helpful to other writers, but it is also a strong reminder to me about how to organize my writing life and personal life so that both get the attention needed without sacrificing one for the other.

It’s important to have fun and not become too serious when in the thick of writing a novel. Explore other creative outlets, but don’t get too distracted.

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Every Writer Needs and Office

This week I decided to stop working at home and get an office. Of course, I can’t really afford to do that — I am a writer/editor, after all, and my income is never guaranteed. Still, I think I deserve an office like everybody else.

So, I am back to the cafes — my favourite being The Wired Monk on Fourth Avenue. Everyone here seems to be on a laptop and working so they are very respectful of making sure you have your own space. Besides this, they make amazing coffee and the food is wonderful. An office does cost a bit of money but I am going to write it all off. A few coffees or beers or meals every so often…So far it is working out really well. I got more done today on the book I am finally back to working on then I have in six months. The only problem with the Wired Monk is that it is a bit of a hike from home; downhill all the way on my bike, but uphill all the way home. A bad uphill that leaves me hot and thirsty. However, the Internet is free. In a crunch when I can’t face the climb I go to Starbucks, which is only a block away, but they only provide two hours online and the coffee isn’t as good.

The False Creek Yacht Club is also totally affordable and offers an amazing view of False Creek and Granville Island. It costs nothing to join as long as you pre-buy your food and drink with their program that is similar to a Starbucks card. I’m thinking this would be a great office as it is almost empty during the daytime, but sadly they don’t have an espresso machine yet, but the beer is good.

My family is slowly becoming accustomed to me saying, “I’m going to the office,” as I disappear out the door. Even though they don’t really have a clue what I am talking about, they seem to accept that I won’t be around to answer questions, cook meals, run to the store, answer the phone, feed the cat, write a first-year essay, drive to Grouse or do the laundry. The various teenagers wandering through the house know not to drink every drop of milk and to find the fridge without too many problems.

So, in conclusion all of you writers who work at home — you don’t have to. Go to your local library or a cafe nearby — every writer needs and office — and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

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