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Four Reasons You're NOT Writing

Updated on July 14, 2014

“Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to.” -Lao Tzu

Time. Do any of us ever have enough time? If time is a created thing then yes we do. The issue is no longer time but our priorities and time management.One of the biggest obstacles for writers is finding the time to work. Few of us can devote the number of hours we’d like to our writing and creativity. If we examine our goals and motivations we will be able to establish a time frame for our work. Every skill takes discipline from public speaking to cooking.The most important things in life require time and effort. Writing is no different. Unless you are independently wealthy with a mansion of servants we all have jobs or additional responsibilities that require our daily attention. Writing is like a marriage which requires your love, nurturing and dedication.Try to set a consistent schedule. Don't accept interruptions. Let others know you have set aside time to work. Most importantly, make writing a priority. The dust bunnies and laundry have piled up for a while and it looks like they aren't going any where. Stay in the present moment and give your writing total focus.. Sensible people make a living doing what they love and get paid for it. This is your life.

“It's time to start living the life you've imagined.” -Henry James

Inspiration. Even the best writers, professional authors and adventurous journalists can temporarily lose their muse. Inspiration can come to us unexpectedly in a eureka moment, a song, a scent or a poem. Good writers can overcome a brief inspiration lapse because they believe in what they’re doing. They understand this is more than a profession or hobby but a true vocation. Most writers have been writing since they were old enough to say "Mommy? What is that? Who is that? Why is that there?". Writers like to read. Writers admire the way other writers form words and sentences. They listen to the lyricism of a verse like musicians absorb the notes of a beautiful symphony. Writers love books, bookstores, libraries, peace, quiet and solitude.

“Critique my better work only, because I want to get better from my best, not better from my worst.” -Jarod Kintz

Criticism. No two people see and feel the world exactly alike, and no two people will ever articulate it in quite the same way. That's what makes life beautiful. Even the oldest stories are told and retold. What do you see? Don't be afraid to use your own "voice". In truth there is no other perspective you can use. Do YOU enjoy reading what you've written? Don't expect other people to be thrilled with your work if you don't enjoy your own sentences and unique ideas.

There are timeless messages to be learned in retelling stories, each storyteller weaves a million intricate, individual moments. The ability to handle criticism and perseverance, are probably what determines most aspiring writers from most working writers. The inability to let others evaluate your work out of insecurity or fear is going to prevent you from your goals. Do you want to get paid for your writing? Then you will have to let others read and critique your work. If you write freelance articles or content expect to edit and revise until it meets the criteria of the company paying you. Don't take every criticism personally. More than likely you are writing for an organization that wants to make a profit or sell an idea. It's not about you and your artistic ego. Rules, guidlines and regulations can be intimidating; intimidation leads to insecurity. You may not know precisely when to use a comma, semi-colon or parentheses, but that decision will never equal the importance of a great creative idea. We may brainstorm first and worry about details later. If we are too concerned about every detail we may never produce anything. A book begins with one paragraph. The hardest part is just to start.

Keep in mind, outside of freelancing not all judging critics are or have ever been artists and you must choose carefully the advice you're going to follow. Ultimately, you will feel in your heart, mind and soul what is best for you and follow that path.

“Exercises are like prose, whereas yoga is the poetry of movements.” -Amit Ray

Exercise. As you are reading this article you have probably been at your computer for several hours either reading or revising your work. Your shoulders are tense and your posture is atrocious What's worse, you have a giant cup of coffee and a bag of Cheetos's on your desk. Your orange cheesy stained fingers leave a permanent reminder on the pages of your drafting notebook.The ideas are not flowing and soon you'll be wasting more time scanning naughty or meaningless websites. It's really time for you to get up. Writing, like researching, is a solitary, sedentary activity. According to Newsweek magazine,

"Almost every dimension of cognition improves from 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, and creativity is no exception. The type of exercise doesn't matter, and the boost lasts for at least two hours afterward."

Even if you aren't perfectly physically fit, getting up to do yoga stretches, taking a fifteen minute walk or finally chasing those pesky dust bunnies, your brain will benefit from the short term break. Your mind is what needs the fresh air most. Just walking away from a project can change perspective and lead to that ever elusive eureka moment all writers yearn for every day.

John Hodgman's Brilliant Advice to Writers


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