7 tips for overcoming life writing blocks

While we might recognize the blocks that stop us writing material from life, we need some practical strategies to get past them. Some methods are practical, some are “sneaky”! Apply whatever works for you. 1. Write each story as fully as you can. In other words, don’t try to censor yourself before you even start. That leads to stops and starts, lack of flow and giving in to doubts. Write everything – literally. Every single detail you can remember or conjure up, including using the five … [Read more...]

Life writing – scary or liberating?

Recently I’ve been teaching a workshop on life writing, so I thought I would share the main points here – both for participants and anyone else who is interested. When we talk about life writing, it can encompass autobiographical, biographical, oral history and memoir, but it means you are drawing on real life. This might be memories, diaries, photographs, interviews – but the key to life writing is, I think, its emotional depth. This is what makes it scary. Especially if you are writing … [Read more...]

The DPR of Writing – Resilience

What does resilience mean when it comes to writing, and building a successful writing career? Is it something that only a few have? Or can we learn it, increase it, expand it? I'd say resilience is at least as important as perseverance, and it is related, but it's different. The dictionary defines resilience as the ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune - or in terms of a material, what enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent or compressed or … [Read more...]

The DPR of writing – Perseverance

Over my 20+ years of teaching creative writing, I’ve seen a lot of talented writers. There are usually a couple in every class, students whose writing I look forward to reading, and who actively welcome workshopping and feedback. And yet I have also learned that even the most talented may not have the perseverance to keep writing, no matter what. What does no matter what mean? Well, to me it means to keep writing despite rejections, obviously. When you are sending out stories and poems and … [Read more...]

Discipline and your writing

For many new writers, the idea of applying discipline to their writing is like applying a whip. Who can write under a whip, they protest. It would kill my inspiration! But sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike will eventually kill your writing career. (Notice I said career – if you want to write purely for enjoyment, go for it!) Any writer who has a list of publications will tell you that it can only be achieved by discipline. You may write one or two stories, a handful of poems, a … [Read more...]

The DPR of a Successful Writing Career – Discipline

One of the hardest things to get to grips with, if you want to make writing a career (as in get published) rather than a fun or satisfying hobby, is the discipline required. Author Bryce Courtenay is famous for using the term ‘bum glue’. Quite simply, you have to glue your backside to the chair and write, and do the same again to revise. And revise. No matter how long it takes you or how difficult it seems. It’s easy to turn excuses and procrastination into a block. The blank page can be … [Read more...]

The key to getting published

How would you feel if someone told you you were unlikely to ever see your work published? Would you give up now? Or would you say, I'm going to write anyway because I love writing? Or would you say, I'm going to write and be published no matter how long it takes? The answer to the question, if you were able to give it honestly, might contain the key to your writing life. Many people write for pleasure with no thought of publication. Emails, letters, diaries, journals, family stories, things … [Read more...]

Breaking down writer’s block

It can be handy to visualize your writer’s block before you tackle it. Does it feel like a wall? Imagine pulling it down, brick by brick. Does it feel like a black hole? Imagine creating a swing of words and floating over the top. If it feels like your mother or father sitting on your shoulder, you have to turn around and shove them right back in the corner! Every time you sit down and write, your block gets smaller. Every time you give into it, it gets bigger and harder to vanquish. So the … [Read more...]

Does writer’s block really exist?

Where does writer’s block come from? Why do so many writers complain about it? What does it really mean? I remember someone saying one day, “If I employed a plumber to fix my bathroom pipes, I doubt he’d ever say he had plumber’s block and couldn’t do the job!” That’s true, but there are a couple of extra elements to the plumber and his pipes. One is that it’s his job and if he doesn’t fix those pipes, he doesn’t get paid. Another is that although he might have to get creative to fix the … [Read more...]