Feeling Stuck? How to Start Writing as a Writer

It’s truly a tragedy to feel imprisoned within your own mind. All these ideas that you want to put out in the world, but it’s all just stuck in your head. Useful ideas, beautiful ideas, ideas that start revolutions. But for some reason you just can’t actually put those ideas onto paper or onto your online blog.

What’s holding you back? It’s obviously fear, or the medical term, anxiety. But why? Isn’t the entire purpose of ideation to share your insights with other people? To transform knowledge and the chaos of the universe into your own beautiful assets. To bring life to new unimagined worlds filled with life, beauty, and wonders that we can only dream of.

All it takes, is for you to sit down… and.. W R I T E. Easier said than done, I know. But when it’s done, you will feel amazing. Defeating Writer’s block has a pretty simple solution actually. To overcome writer’s block, you must read. Yes, all things including writing occur in cycles. And to create, you must consume. Before you can craft epics worthy of the divine heavens, you must appreciate the works of the people who have come before you.

Originality: An Ancient “New” Problem

Too many writers, especially new ones think that something must be completely original. You are chasing an impossibility. Stories have been re-told since the dawn of man. Even the superhero genre is just composed of the mythological figures of our ancient ancestors. The realm of science fiction is probably going to be as close to original as you can realistically get. But even that isn’t safe. Star Wars for example. Virgin birth, messiah character, crusades, fighting with laser swords. Wait, I’ve heard this story before in a very popular book that’s in every southern hotel.

Of course there is always going to be innovation. Every good writer incorporates new elements into their works. New forensic techniques for a mystery novel. New weapons for the action heroes. But do the formulas honestly ever change, No. If you’ve seen one Hollywood movie based on Greek mythology you have seen them all. You can even even travel to tvtropes.org for another confirmation that everything you have ever thought has already been written by someone else. So please stop trying so hard to be original.

Writing: The Roots of the Problem

Competition. Bullying. Imposter Syndrome. It doesn’t matter the form, it all has the same root emotion: fear. Fear of sabotage. Fear of criticism. Fear of disrespect. Listen, there is an audience for everyone and everything. Everyone has their niche or their role to play. Some people want to escape into a life they wish they had. Other’s want insight into a path they’re about to take from an expert. Whatever you have to share, write it down.

Then read it over with purpose, and refine it. Perfection is an outcome, not a goal. More importantly perfection is relative. You will never write something that will appeal to everyone. This is another impossibility you are chasing. Do not get so obsessed with the pressure to succeed that you forget the reason why you are writing in the first place. To get your ideas out into the open world. Feedback will happen as it does. The trick is getting the right feedback from the right sources.

Don’t seriously consider criticism from someone you would never get advice from. And don’t take feedback to heart from people who don’t have the courage to put themselves out there. Take simple pride in your work, not from ego but from a recognition of your efforts. Make your writing your child. Nurture it, protect it, and give it to the tools to stand out on it’s own.

Write to Express, Not to Impress

“A person without self-expression is a person without personal freedom.”

Robin S. Sharma

If you want to be a good writer, write for an audience. If you want to be a great writer, write for yourself. Your audience will find you. Writing is about the value that you create with the ideas that you have consumed. All through your tone, your style, and your perspective. When you rely on external validation of your abilities you will be a slave to the whims and ideas of your audience, especially ideas you don’t agree with. Establish your own legitimacy by self-validating your own experience, thoughts, and feelings.

To find your voice you should critically think about your perspective, writing structure, and vocabulary. How do you analyze ideas? What value can you bring to a body of knowledge? Do you know how to describe the observations that you make? These are all important questions to consider and practice. Once you’ve found your answers, write your first draft, then your second, and third, until it is finished. There is always someone looking for an answer that you can provide if you write well enough. Writing for yourself gives you a self-sustaining motivation for writing because you won’t be reliant on anyone else.

Defeat Your Procrastination

There’s no single reason why a writer would choose to procrastinate. For some, they simply can’t move past their fear of the unknown. Others don’t have the vocabulary to transfer their thoughts onto paper. The worst type of writers are the ones who expect inspiration to come to them. Whatever the barrier(s) may be, you must break through them to write. Do not attempt anything until you have overcome them.

Analysis Paralysis: Mistakes happen. You don’t know what the “right” and “wrong” decisions to make are. Should you start it off this way? What would this author do? What’s the “right way to end a book? It’s a useless mode of thinking. There are not right and wrong ways to organize information. There are explosive beginnings. Mysterious beginnings. Beautiful beginnings. Get specific. Good writing is an outcome not a goal. As long as the words spread the message you want, it’s fine.

Inspiration Desperation: To create you must consume. If you want inspiration, go out and search for it. This is a huge world that is connected by the Internet. Inspiration is all around you. If you want inspiration, put in the effort and go find it. You want to write a mystery novel, then research court cases. You want to write a self-help book, talk to successful people. You want to write a song, find something everyone is talking about. You do not deserve inspiration, you earn it.

Sunken Cost Fallacy: Sometimes we end up putting effort into something we realize will be terrible. Too much effort and you feel compelled to put more in. You have two equally valid options. You can give up and get started on something new. Or you can finish it knowing that it will be terrible. Both cases will provide a learning opportunity. If you give up, make sure you figure out where things went wrong. If you decide to finish it, analyze how you can improve it. Practice makes perfect.

Imagination Abomination: Vision. Sometimes the picture we have in our head is hard to transcribe to paper. In your mind, it’s the greatest story to ever be told. On paper, it’s written like bad fan fiction. This is usually do to an inability to accurately describe the ideas and events that occur in your head. It’s a simple problem to solve. You just have to increase your vocabulary and observation skills. Once you can observe in detail how it happens in the real world, you’ll be able to transcribe the ideas into your head onto paper.

Rejection Perfection: You really need to let go of your fear of rejection. It is impossible to avoid rejection. Some people will reject your work simply to upset you and cause an emotional reaction. Others will reject your work because they don’t care. Some will have malicious intentions and reject your work because they don’t want your audience to value it. Rejection is a natural and very needed part of life.

Find Inspiration

You should be grateful that you are in the moment in human history where the Internet was invented. You have the ability to sample an infinitely growing list of books from writers at all stages in life. There exist millions of fictional worlds from you to gather the ingredients for your own story. Every writer should curate a list of his favorite books and authors, just as every chef curates a list of his favorite spices and herbs. More importantly, it will help you develop your own style as you repeat the success of the techniques and literary devices that you found compelling.

Using Perspectives

As the writer of a story, you have the responsibility to ensure that you view an issue from the perspectives of all your characters. No one enjoys a stereotype. Most importantly, no one really enjoys a character with no depth. We have the most knowledge about psychology recorded down in human history. There is no excuse for not researching in depth the motivations behind why people commit the actions they do. Even children want to know more about why the villain is the way they are. Most importantly, show don’t tell.

Write the End First

In my humble opinion, the best way to write a story is figuring out how you want to end it rather than how you want to begin it. We’ve all seen what can happen when a fanbase falls in love with a show and doesn’t like it’s ending. That’s because most writers are so focused on getting started they don’t understand that it’s also important to get it finished. This goes for all forms of writing not just fiction. Think about the feelings you want to invoke in your audience. More importantly, think about how the audience can use those feelings to improve their understanding about a situation.

The best thing about writing is that it doesn’t have to be perfect at first. You can draft an organization of ideas before you publish them. And remember that every block is just a temporary setback. Building a story is about building a journey. So get out there and write. Write a children’s book. Start a blog post. Write a news article. Just be proud of your work and you will be fine.

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