Writing Tips: No Excuses!

The brilliant poet, Gwendolyn Brooks
The brilliant poet, Gwendolyn Brooks

An Excerpt from Poetry Magazine's April 2012 Issue.


Poet Patricia Smith shares an encounter with Gwendolyn Brooks:

I had uttered something that countless other writers have uttered before, a silence filler of sorts, a throat-clearing that I assumed Ms. Brooks, and anyone else who had ever picked up a pen, would instantly relate to and agree with. I was craving the comfort of common ground when I said, "I have a real problem finding time to write."

The corner or her mouth twitched, then spread into one of those indulgent smiles that knots you up a little inside. It's the smile a teacher gives you before handing back a test paper with a grade lower than either of you expected.

Without looking directly at me, Gwendolyn said, "Your problem should be finding time for anything else."

“How do I overcome Writer’s Block?” “I can’t seem to get inspired to write.”


As a magazine editor and writer, I hear these statements a lot. In fact, I used these very phrases as an excuse not to write for years. No more! I've learned that the first statement is a myth and the second is just, well, uh...searching for scholarly word...silly. They are excuses not to write. Worse, they are the ramblings of a lazy writer who doesn't want to work at their craft, but wants to simply let the writing just happen.

Certainly this happens, the sudden appearance of inspiration, the five hundred page novel penned in one long haul of a coffee fueled day, and it’s a glorious and wonderful occurrence. But, if we writers waited for these moments, our portfolios would be nonexistent and our pocket books would be even more pinched. Below you will find brief tools to fight the urges to use these excuses.

I’ve touched on this topic before, but, I wanted to revisit it and focus it more on these two ideas.

How Do I Overcome Writers Block?


You don’t. You can't. It's a myth. Furthermore, there’s always something to write. If you're experiencing what you believe to be writer's block, the problem is usually that you aren’t writing, or at least not enough. I’m going to give you a bit of stolen advice. It’s advice given by everyone from Stephen King to Steve Kowit to every English and writing professor worth their title everywhere in the world. That advice is to simply write. If you write, writers block won’t have a chance to creep in. Keep that pen moving, keep those fingers typing. Even if what you’re writing is garbage, you’re still writing. Anne Lamont calls these "shitty first drafts" and we shouldn't be afraid of them. Write those first drafts as if no one will ever read them and you'll win the battle of writer's block.

Writer’s Block is a myth. It’s an excuse not to write. It’s bred from a lack of writing. Don’t focus on it. Focus instead on the act of writing and you will find that your mind is free and clear to write, write, write!

Which leads to the next point:

I Can’t Seem to Get Inspired to Write

This is just plain silly. Inspiration is everywhere: in music, in a good book (or a bad one), in your pets, in food, in your children, in nature. It’s everywhere, just look. This is why I carry a notebook with me at all times. I jot down notes and ideas, story ideas, observations. These inevitably spark inspiration.

Let’s use a colorful metaphor:

Inspiration is a fickle mistress. You must pursue her. She does not make a habit of coming to you without you earning her appearance. You have to work for her affections. She must be wined and dined. Wooed. Seduced.

Most of all, you have to write. If you write, she will come. It may take all day, all week, all month, all year, a decade, a lifetime, but come she will and she will be worth the wait. It will be ecstasy. Pure joy! When she arrives, ready to be used for your creative purposes, treat her kindly. Caress her, Kiss her, praise her, tell her she’s beautiful, buy her flowers and most importantly, don’t ignore her or expect her to stay without your effort. After all, she is fickle and will gladly leave you for another who is willing to work to keep her. Perhaps someone with a fatter bank account and more impressive resume.

Yes, she may pop in for a quickie once in a while, but this can’t be counted on. If we wait for this, we will spend most of our time being frustrated and dissatisfied, and probably irritable. If we want Inspiration, we must pursue her. Pursue her where she is: your dirty little mind.

If you can’t get inspired to write, stop being a lazy lover. Get creative. She’s out there, look for her. She wants you to find her.

The Bottom Line:

Write. Stop making excuses and write. We’re writers. That’s what we do.That's a better draft, It shows everything that the previous sentence told. We now know how Bill is feeling by seeing how he looks and how he's acting. It's not perfect, but it's a start, and hopefully it helps you in your journey to show vs tell.


Thanks for Reading.

A FREELANCE WRITER, HONORS STUDENT AND GOVER PRIZE FINALIST, JUSTIN W. PRICE (AKA, PDXKARAOKEGUY) CONSIDERS HIMSELF A POET FIRST AND FOREMOST BUT IS ALSO A SKILLED SHORT STORY, BIOGRAPHER AND HUMOR WRITER. HIS POETRY COLLECTION,DIGGING TO CHINA, WILL BE RELEASED FEBRUARY 2ND, 2013 BY SWEATSHOPPE PUBLICATIONS AND IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ON AMAZON AS WELL AS YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER.

HIS WORK WILL ALSO BE FEATURED IN BEST NEW FICTION (2014 EDITION), AND HAS APPEARED PREVIOUSLY IN THE RUSTY NAIL, EFICTION, EFICTION HUMOR, THE CRISIS CHRONICLES, THE HELLROARING REVIEW AND THE BELLWETHER REVIEW. HE CURRENTLY SERVES AS MANAGING EDITOR OF EHORROR MAGAZINE AND THE BRIDGEONLINE NEWSPAPER. HE PREVIOUSLY SERVED AS THE POETRY AND CORRESPONDENCE EDITOR FOR THE BELLWETHER REVIEW.

HE WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER, EDITOR, AND GHOST WRITER, AND IS WORKING TOWARDS HIS PH.D. HE LIVES IN A SUBURB OF PORTLAND, OREGON WITH HIS WIFE, ANDREA, AND THEIR LABRADOODLE, BELLA.

PLEASE VISIT HIS PROFILE PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION. THANKS!

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Comments 40 comments

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Ladydeonne.... Don't procrastinate. Write write write! Thanks for stopping by and following!


ladydeonne profile image

ladydeonne 3 years ago from Florence, SC

I am happy to have stumbled upon your hub. I am impressed by your

credentials and experience. Your hub was very informative. I don't have the so called writer's block, what I do have is PROCRASTINATION, one of the acute symptoms of my ADHD. I looked over your hubs and hope to learn much from you. I am now your follower.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks a lot for stopping by and reading, unknown author.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

DDE, I agree... that was one of the points of the article.


UnknownAuthor72 profile image

UnknownAuthor72 3 years ago from USA

This is so helpful! :) I am glad to share it with others.

The inspiration isn't the problem. It is the motivation

and time. The story will take a life of its own and I second

guess too much. I try to see the book outside the box.

And look at various outcomes. Then there is the road block! :(

any advice? thanks for sharing this info. :)


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

There is no writer's block it is called laziness.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Kimmie... I've been trying to find a way to use that analogy for years. It's one of my favorites :-)


Sunnie Day 3 years ago

Another great hub that needed to go around a few more times. I think I commented awhile back but the truth still stands and does not hurt any of us to read once more. I love your analogy of a lazy lover, it is all true when compared to what we put into our writing. It is something we have to exercise and put time into. Everyday is a gift from the time we open our eyes, we have something we could write about.

Take care my talented friend,

Sunnie


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

LOL... thanks J-Matlock. I hope this helped... and stop making excuses!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Audrey!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Colin, Your comment made me laugh with hilarity and I wished I'd seen it earlier. Stupid hubpages and their lag notifications!


j-matlock profile image

j-matlock 4 years ago from Somewhere.

"Oh no... this hub, it- it....burns through my soul... but no, I need excuses not to write... stop it! Stop it with your twisted reasoning; your evil logic! Leave me alone.... leave us all alone!"

That might have been a tad dramatic, but you get the idea. Thanks for this hub, it might just be my inspiration to write.

Voted up and useful.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

I just had to come back and re-read this Justin--so very true!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 4 years ago

I only seem to get writer's block when my wife Pamela Lee Anderson leaves town to do another Baywatch movie - other than that I seem to be pretty prolific here at the Hub - but all kidding aside as writers/poets we need all of the help and the inspiration we can get - and your very informative enlightening hub seminar is awesome - or as epi would say - hubawesome - lake erie time 2:05am and the music is so loud right now that the fish in the lake are wearing ear plugs - lol


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Blake. I hope this helped. Thanks for stopping by!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks so much, kimmie. Love your comment!


blakesherman 4 years ago

Always good to get a dose of inspiration. Thanks!


Sunnie Day 4 years ago

Love this hub Justin, you are so right. Inspiration is everywhere, taking the smallest, insignificant thing, and adding ones little flare

.

TAADAHH there it is.:)

You have touched on a concern of many writers with your wonderful writing skills. Thank you.

Sunnie


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Rosemay, yes. It's important to write every day! Evem if it's just gibberish.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Deborah, I've actually found that reading and commenting on hubs can be great inspiration. it's also good to support your fellow writers. Which you've done here. Thanks!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Angela, the fact that a poet laureate struggles with this should be an encouragement to us all. thanks for sharing!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thansk LaThing. Excuses are easy to make... if you want to write, don't make them :-)


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks so much Jainismus


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Gypsy. Trie as it may sound, it really is that simple.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks a lot, Rcrumple for sharing your story!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks flash. I've found this all to be so very true.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks AudreyHowitt


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks, Audrey. That's my goal. I want writers to write and not make excuses. I'm glad you found this useful.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks x-static. You can always bookmark it. I'm pleased you found this useful!


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Good advice ' keep writing and writers block won’t have a chance to creep in' I know if something takes me away from writing for a while I know the longer I leave it the harder it is to get back into it.

Thank you


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

This is great advice. My biggest issue is not writer's block, but getting distracted by other things (like reading and commenting on all the other great hubs out there). : )


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

How true, how true -- in an interview a certain Texas Poet Laureate (and I'm not talking about my brother) told a member of the press that in order to write he had to put on his black beret, listen to classical music, relax, sit back and wait for the muse to join him. What a crock of hockey! You're right -- begin putting anything on paper and the rest will come as you work. Super Hub! Best/Sis


LaThing profile image

LaThing 4 years ago from From a World Within, USA

Hit it right on the nail, or whatever the expression is!! See, I even get 'quote blocks', :))

Seriously, very valuable points..... Love your bottom line, 'don't make excuses....'.

Voting up and useful!


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India

Great tips on overcoming writer's block, thank you for sharing.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Thanks for the advice and inspiration just to keep on writing. Passing this on.


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

Justin -

Funny, I addressed the writer's block topic on another hub. You expressed it much more eloquently.

I simply told a person to start writing about what they were doing! My recent series got started by a gasp at 173 emails starting me in the face, and deciding that I needed some time for myself. So, I went to AOL and started seeing what else was happening in the world. Suddenly, the jokes started presenting themselves in what I was viewing and the keys started moving. I can't tell you how many were tossed out for space constraints and weak material, but without initiating the writing process, nothing would have ever happened.

As you say, inspiration surrounds us. It's simply a matter of opening one's eyes and removing the restraining blinders!

Great Hub! Up & Useful & Interesting!


flashmakeit profile image

flashmakeit 4 years ago from usa

Well that really inspiring! keep writing and writers block won’t have a chance to creep in. Awesome advice and a very encouraging thought.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Ah--so true!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

No such thing as writers block? How wonderful to learn this. Yes, it all makes sense. Every word you have written makes perfect sense. I will follow your writing tips. I will write more often. This much I have taken away from your marvelous hub...that there is something to write about in everything. I love this and will share it. Voted across and thank you.


xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Outstanding advice, would save it if we still had that option, but I know where to find it. Should be read by any Hubber trying to write and not believing in him/her-self.

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