The answer is so simple, that I bet when I say it out loud, you’ll go like, yeah duh, genius!
But I’ll go ahead and say it anyway.
The trick to doing something, anything, is to just… do it. (I Googled “just do it” and now I’m emotionally scarred for life!)
Yeah, just do it. That’s all you’ve got to do.
JUST DO IT.
But wait, Maliha, isn’t that the problem though? That we can’t just go and “just do it”?
Well, yes, that is correct.
And that’s why I’m writing this article.
So bare with me here for a bit. We need to cover the basics first. And “just do it” is the very basic starting point for getting anything done. In fact, just-do-it should be your mantra for the rest of your life on Mother Earth.
Now that that’s covered, let’s get to the juicy bits.
Find Out What’s Stopping You from Writing.
At my engineering job, whenever something goes wrong, the bulk of the followup work involves figuring out exactly what went wrong.
In other words, before we think of how we can fix something, we have to first find out what needs fixing.
Take this thing called “a writer’s block”, for example. Most people focus on finding some kind of muse or motivation to get the hell out of a writer’s block. But they hardly ever wonder what’s causing the writer’s block in the first place.
From personal experience, here are a few things that may be causing you to go into a writer’s block or just stopping you from even wanting to sit down and write.
You could be writing the wrong thing [for you].
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Writing in and of itself is a vague idea until you narrow it down to what fits your personality and satiates your curiosity.
By “narrow it down” I don’t mean that you may only write about one thing and that one thing only. What I mean is that you must find the topic(s) you actually like writing about. Now, you may be good at writing about 20 different things, or you may just be good at writing about one thing.
Or maybe it’s the format. Perhaps you’re trying to dish out a 1000-page award-winning literary fiction, while all along your strength lay in writing about current political affairs and other non-fictitious hard-facts.
Maybe you excel in short essays rather than novels. Or perhaps you were always meant to write middle-grade adventure stories rather than Harlequin-worthy steamy romance.
The key to writing is finding your strength.
But here’s the other side of the puzzle. You won’t find what you’re good at by looking at a blank screen for hours. You have to write to know whether or not that’s something you should pursue.
So, if you find yourself lacking motivation, try and think outside of the box. See if writing about something different from the usual gets you out of your funk.
Maybe you don’t know enough about the topic at hand.
About a couple of years ago, things changed for me significantly. And yes, the political climate has a lot to do with that. I, who am a person of moderate temperament, found myself constantly switching back and forth between rage and distress.
So, I thought I’d write about politics and race issues. I had the desire and the passion for it, however, I disregarded something crucial.
You see, I may be a person of color living in the US during rather turbulent times, but I grew up in a different country. In the country where I was born and raised, we had (and still have) many problems, but racism isn’t one of them. Sure I know a thing or two about class issues and patriarchy and misogyny, and sexism, but I can’t claim that I understand racism in America well enough to write about it in a way that’d do the subject any justice.
So, be careful when you start romanticizing a topic. Just because you want to do it doesn’t mean you can. If you must write about it, learn about the subject at hand, do your due research, and only then attempt it. Otherwise, you’ll just let yourself down, and writing anything at all after that will be a whole lot harder.
Perhaps you’re disregarding underlying issues.
Life. It has a way of getting in the way, doesn’t it? But we can’t let these things stop us from what we need to do. However, pretending as though nothing is wrong doesn’t help. The only way to stay productive and keep writing (or whatever it is you’re trying to do, really) is to acknowledge the issues in your life.
Everything has it’s one place. When you face the problems, it becomes a little easier to keep things in perspective.
Maybe you’re writing in a way that’s tampering with your productivity.
Productivity comes with its own set of rules. These rules change from one person to the next, so, it’s worth taking some time to figure out what makes you the most productive.
That said, allow me to share some tips anyway.
It helps to separate brainstorming sessions from writing sessions.
For example, I find it the least productive when I try to come up with an idea for a piece and write it then and there. I mean, it may work every now and then, but for the most part, I find it a huge waste of time. I could be sitting in front of my laptop for hours and not make the slightest progress.
On the other hand, if I already know what I’ll have to write, the words come to me a little easier, and a bit faster too.
Here’s what I’ve been doing lately. I divided up my writing into three different sessions. Once or twice a week I take some time to sit down and come up with all the topics for that week. During this session, I like to chill with my Moleskine (brand not important) and Pilot G2, and write down whatever topic comes to mind. Once I have 10–15 ideas, I refine these even further and make a solid plan for the week.
The second session also takes place a few times a week - usually however many articles I plan to publish that week. The goal this time is to write down a tentative outline for each of my articles.
Things always change more or less while doing the actual writing, but I find that having an outline gets my brain working better.
This process has helped me cut down on my writing time significantly. While I could only write one, or maybe two articles per week before, now I can fit in four or five or more during the week.
And blogging is only my side-gig!
Don’t care too much about “feelings”.
I have trouble with this. You see, I give in to my feelings more than I’d like to. Feelings of wanting to stay in bed a bit longer, or feelings of wanting to binge on my favorite anime that I’ve seen some thirty-seven times already. Or feelings of just not doing anything at all.
At my “day job”, I have to observe working hours and respect people’s time during meetings and such. Disregarding useless “feelings” seem a bit easier during these times.
Writing is different because 1) it is not my livelihood, 2) I don’t have to observe a strict schedule or any routine, and 3) nobody’s waiting on me to publish a new blog post, it’s all on me.
Needless to say that there’s a whole lot less motivation for getting it done, as opposed to my responsibilities at my day job.
So, the only way to do it consistently is to just do it!
And with that, we’re back to where we started.
To be able to write, especially when you could just as well not write, you have to let go of your disruptive feelings and treat it the same way you do a job. Even if it is not your job, and because it is not your job, you need to be twice as vigilant, and JUST. DO. IT.
Funk is real and we all go through it at some point in our lives. Some of us are in it almost all the time. You just have to learn to navigate the world despite the funk. It’s one thing when you don’t want to write because you don’t like writing (and if that’s the case, maybe find another vocation or hobby), but if you’re unable to write because you’re approaching writing the wrong way, well, then there are ways to fix that. But you need to figure out what the problem is before you attempt a fix.
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