When You Get Past the Blank Page

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Scanning the web for articles on writing it’s impossible not to come across advice on getting started. Mostly they talk about the blank page syndrome, where people become so intimidated it paralyzes them. For some staring a blank page is the hardest and scariest part about writing. I’ve never really had trouble starting. I think starting is easy, I’ve started writing tons things over the years. For me the hard part comes after I start. For a long time I had to push past the feeling that what I was getting down just wasn’t right. I’ve fallen into the trap of editing as I write which makes it even harder to complete. But in time I learned to continue and worry about fixing it up in the editing process.

The editing is whole other issue itself. That is where I can become stuck and the idea of a finished product can paralyze me. I’ve had a tons of work that after a rough draft they were left abandoned or even completely started over. It’s easier to give up than toil over something I’m not happy with. Unfortunately there are those times I can’t just give up, whether for school or work I have to turn in a finished product. And while I know all good writing needs several edits, I feel like I spend an excessive amount of time on it. I tend to get stuck trying to make it perfect, going over the same sentences over and over again. If one isn’t right how can the rest be. I have things I’ve written that I could continue editing forever and never really be happy with the finished product.

I don’t know when to stop and can’t decide when things are actually finished. When working on deadline, I usually just run out of time and have to hand in whatever I’ve done. Many times you’ll find me anguishing over it up until the last moment before I send it off. No matter what I write I end up obsessing over whether I should have changed a word here or there, added an extra comma somewhere, or even if I should have organized it differently. When I don’t have a deadline I usually just stop working on it when I’m tired of looking at it.

I always wonder how other people decide a piece of writing is done. I’d love to hear some thoughts on the subject from other. Let me know in the comments if you struggle with this too or if you have any advice on how to overcome the anxiety of finished a piece.

Lifes little lesson for Monday

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Yesterday, I was really in a funky mood. I woke up later than I wanted to, so I stayed in bed being lazy. Just felt like lying around. It didn’t help that I hadn’t really gotten anything done in a couple days. I basically wasted my time, by hanging out, and my money . Not that I didn’t enjoy it or feel like I needed it but I just couldn’t get myself back into a working state of mind. So after I finally got up, sitting in front of my computer I just couldn’t think of one thing I wanted to do. Then I get a text to go hang out with a friend. I did want to go hang out because it’s not like I was being productive. But then I thought about the money issue and if I did go anywhere then I would be upset the next day because again I had gotten nothing done and I would be completely broke.

So as I sat there contemplating what to do I went through my choices.

1. I could get right back into the bed and wait for the day to be over and just start all over tomorrow hoping it would be a better day.

2. I could go hang out and spend the last of my money. I could also hope that hanging out would put me in a better mood and that at least I would have had some fun before I tried starting over again tomorrow.

Or I could do the smartest thing. Just try to work through it and force myself to do something, anything. I thought for a minute and pulled out the easiest thing I could possible do. Take out a journal and just write about how I felt. I just sat and wrote out the whole ordeal, it came out real easily once I began. About half way through it I was already feeling better. I’m not sure how long I wrote but it was about two pages. I stopped to eat and do a couple of other things in between but kept going back. (I tend to always multi-task once I get motivated) But by the time I wrote the last paragraph I felt totally better. I did still get back into bed but with different intentions.

I was just going to do a little mini restart of the day. Instead of getting in the bed and staying there until the next morning I was going to take a little mini nap and get up later to get some stuff done at night. I did get in bed but never up taking the nap. Eventually, I got some work done later in the night after watching a little television.

Whether or not I did get anything done though was besides the point. Writing my way out of my funky mood made me remember why I began writing in the first place. The writing experience has always been very cathartic for me. It was the easiest and most natural outlet for me to channel my energy into. Over the years I’ve lost my enthusiasm for writing. Well actually the better way to put it is I lost the momentum I once used to have. At some points life’s distractions took over. At other times it just started to feel too much like an obligation. With attempting to turn my passion and something that I did purely for fun into a legitimate career I had to write things I didn’t always enjoy, so it became forced. But while I was writing the journal entry it just all flowed out of me, it wasn’t forced and the more I wrote the better I felt. I just realized this is a sign that I’ve got to work out a new routine. I have to do more of that natural, fun writing so I don’t get that burn out from just churning out work.

I have to find a balance so that I don’t forget again that I actually do enjoy writing.