Writing is a lonely business: writing friends help

You write on your own. There are writers who collaborate, but most of us sit on our own at our desks, doing what we do. We write, of course, a lot, but we also think a lot and do a good amount of research. These are not social activities. Hamish, a writer friend of mine, maintains that writing is a selfish activity and that you have to be single-mindedly selfish to find the time to write when you’ve got a full-time job, family and friends. I think he’s right. Writing’s an obsessive occupation and obsessions are all about the self.

Personally, I don’t think I could take myself seriously if it was just me, all alone in a creative sea, swimming in whichever direction I fancy that moment. I need feedback and support, some kind of direction.

Enter writing buddies.

Writer’s block? Writing something that doesn’t matter might help

Writer’s block gets between you and the page. It can be different things to different people: a crippling fear of writing something that isn’t good, a head as empty as the page you’re looking at or an inability to find the time to get started. Whatever it is, it stops you from writing.

Seth Godin wrote a post about writer’s block and how to get over it. In hsort, he writes that if the problem is that you’re worried what you’re writing is rubbish, then write more so that you get better. It is very good advice. Write something, just anything. If you free yourself from the demand of perfect quality, you allow yourself to learn and can enjoy the experience. Writing is a craft and one that can be mastered. With practice.

There are ways to get over writer’s block. Most of them involve writing something. NaNoWriMo works for me. It focuses on quantity not quality: it’s all about the words. Get huge amounts of words on the page and don’t allow yourself to edit what y0u’ve written, just charge on. Some sentences – maybe even paragraphs – will be good. Many will be rubbish but it doesn’t matter. Just doing it – writing – is tremendous fun.

You can also get weekly pushes through Write Anything. They post prompts for their Friday Writing challenge weekly. The challenge is really simple: look at the prompt and then write about it for five minutes. You don’t have to stop after the five minutes – keep going if you want. Again, much of what you write might be nonsense but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you wrote something.

The more you write, the easier it gets. After working as a technical writer for over a decade I have no problems getting words on paper. My issue is finding kernels of a story I think is worth writing about. But I’ve learned to start, get going and just continue. Not everything I write is worth keeping or sharing but each effort makes the next one a little easier.