3 Deadly Traps for a Writer

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There are so many things that can distract writers.  Writers are thinkers and dreamers, and if there is anything I have learned from my son, who suffers from ADHD, it is that distractions can kill any chance of the completion of a task.

But what are the three things that are deadly for a writer, deadly vipers that might poison any chance of completing a project or a WIP?

The following three would top my list:

  1. Life – Perhaps you have angel wings and perhaps rainbows follow you everywhere and perhaps you ride to work every day on a unicorn that smells like angel-food cake, but quite frankly the world is a much more harsh environment for a writer than most.  Writers are typically sensitive to their world and often go around with their skin removed…at least poets and fiction writers.  It is tough, sometimes, to keep that world at bay enough to not let it bring us down.  We are trying to write that romantic scene when our love life is in shambles, trying to write the happiest ending to our tale when the ending to our day was more of an out of control avalanche.
    • The Way Out: Do what writers do best – write about it.  Stop writing that scene that is a paradox to your life at the moment and write about what really happened to you today.  It is a way to get it off of your chest (and not freak out your significant other with how sensitive you are to your surroundings).
  2. Writer’s Block – Let’s face it.  You haven’t written in weeks, perhaps months, and you just can’t get back into the habit of cranking out the words.  Perhaps you have grown bored with the WIP.  I once knew a writer who didn’t write for a year because he claimed that he had writer’s block.
    • The Way Out: Realize that writer’s block is a myth.  There are not blocked writers only lazy writers.  I’m sorry to punch you in the creative noggin, but this is a truth.  Writers write.  It doesn’t matter if you write a poem today or a paragraph or a sentence, you should get to writing.  Write nonsense for a few paragraphs and see what happens.
  3. Shattered Dreams of “Success” – This one is a tough one.  You have done everything (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, free Kindle days, e-mail blitzes, hired good editors, spent tons of money) and you have not seen the book sales you desire.  It has therefore soured any other attempts at writing another novel because you have had such little monetary success with the other effort.  This one can cause any writer to go on a downward spiral of despair in a hurry…the feeling that no matter what you do, you will never have the “success” of an Amanda Hawking.

    • The Way Out: What is your definition of “success”?  Mine is selling a few books now and again and once in a while getting a letter from a reader who liked my book.  Success is finishing one of those crazy novels that popped out of my head in the middle of the night after a fevered dream.  You have to be realistic about dreams because in truth the best seller is not the best success you can have as a writer.  My latest novel made one of my proof-readers cry when she finished the last chapter.  That is success.

What kills your writing vibe?  Post below.  Perhaps I could provide some tips to help you reach that goal.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

14 thoughts on “3 Deadly Traps for a Writer

  1. Re: number three, Chuck Wendig makes a useful distinction between the craft of writing, the art of storytelling, and the business of publishing. It may well be unrealistic to expect one’s skills in all three to advance in lockstep, convenient thought that might be. For one thing, the skill sets involved in the first two overlap less than one might think, and neither have much in common with the third.

    If you love writing, and storytelling, that’s what you do. I’ve known people who tried to open restaurants and failed. Some of them tried again, with lessons learned in mind; others went into catering et al. None of them stopped cooking.

  2. Life, for sure. Sometimes It’s easier to sit there and watch TV than it is to write. When that spark hits, you can’t say, “I’ll write later.” Write now!

  3. I have had the worst time writing over the last six months give or take. Yes I have been trying to work out my first chapter that long, but I have a good reason. Do to killing a laptop (another laptop I should say) I lost five hole chapters and a started sixth, it through me way off. I just wasn’t able to come up with a new beginning I liked, let alone loved.
    I have finally to my delight gotten past it. How? I worked on something else, something simpler. A children’s book that will be getting published. It was learning a small publisher wanted the book that did it for me. She offered her help in any other areas and so I sent her the novel I have been fighting with. she gave me some great advice, and said she really liked it and wanted to see my outline. I got so excited its just been flowing right out of me like I never stopped.
    I think working on something else and getting your mind off your currant project is a great way to get past things. I love your post 🙂

      1. I have gotten three flash drives and I can’t seem to keep them. my oldest son has one, my brother in-law another, and the third I don’t even know where it disappeared to. I do plan on getting another though, I don’t like not having any extra copies of all my WIPs. However when that happened I hadn’t considered backing up all of my work, I was still learning, and continue to, but I know a lot more now then I did.

  4. I share your vision of success; that would be enough for me as well. The thing that kills my creative writing vibe is my ongoing efforts to self-educate on the topic. Whether it’s grammar refreshers, improving editing skills, or trying to master the various elements of a composition with focused study, I get so caught up in the logic side of my brain that I can’t effectively switch it off and give the right side of my brain a shot at bat. I’ve tried to limit ‘education mode’ to several months at a time and then follow it with several months dedicated to creative efforts only, but I haven’t been successful so far. I can’t keep myself from researching topics and signing up for online courses.

    1. Excellent comment! I feel the same way, often. To add to the “success” portion of this…I just received my tax statement from Amazon…I made over $100 this year in royalties! That’s the best yet!

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