Periodically do you ask yourself, “Will anyone be interested in this that I am writing?”, “Will this sell?”, “Do I have what it takes?”
Most struggling writers have self-doubts, give up from time to time, or throw in their pen completely until their inner muse draws them back, sometimes almost against their will.
But for those times when you are at the crossroads of doubt, or feel simply out of steam, consider following the next four points.
Point #1: Start reading another’s work with no intention to write. Just enjoy the subject matter you are reading. You might choose a mystery, a history book, a do-it-yourself magazine. Vacation inside a subject you particularly like that you haven’t visited in quite some time. When I need to do this, when the stress of the world has taken my creative juices, I have been known to start five books at a time – and I finish them – on a variety of subjects. At some point in this journey, I feel refreshed. I know I have done myself a favor. And before I am less than a quarter through any of these books, I am underlining passages that will directly help me in my writing creations. Good sentence structure catches my eye. Dialogue that describes scene, inserts drama, enriches plot teaches me new tactics to use in my writing. My subconscious writing-self is working in the background.
Point #2: Have a notebook and pen at hand when you sit down to read just in case you can’t help yourself and you want to make notes. Some of you can’t survive without your electronics, so power up the computer. You will find amazing original ideas arising in you from reading another’s work and if you don’t record them at the time, they will be long forgotten as you continue to read. I briefly record my ideas in short entries in a spiral notebook. I notate book title and page number to reference later if need be. A reading vacation relaxes me and lessens direct pressure on me to produce my own writing.
Point #3: As you are relaxing and reading, gently notice the voice in which the work is written, the point of view, the plot, grammar, vocabulary, anything that speaks to you and allows you to blend into the story.
Point #4: Write comments in your notebook on what you are learning. Record your feelings. Search yourself both intellectually and emotionally. Good writing is born of sensitive introspection.
All of the points above give me rest from my own creative pressures and I suddenly (or so it seems, suddenly) am no longer a struggling writer, but am energized and on the muse again.
Try these techniques, create your own variations of them, and you will find you are not dried up and self-doubting – until the next time, of course. Writing can be a struggle and the inevitable always looms. But, it’s good to know we can ease the pressure and get back into our ink and off we go!
What suggestions do you have for the rest of us? I’d love to hear from you.