29 July 2011

Writer’s Block: High School and College Assignments

Writer’s Block and the Pressure of an Assignment
One of the hardest writer’s blocks to overcome is one that develops under pressure. A writing assignment from a high school teacher or a college professor can definitely become an issue when writer’s block becomes involved.

Writer’s Block for Non-Writers
For someone born to write, a writing assignment might be a pleasure. These individuals sit down, pound out the words and only have the burden of editing left to worry about. For others, it is usually not so simple. The technical aspects of writing can get in the way. The desire to write may also be missing. The difficulty of the subject matter of the writing piece may also be involved. With all of these factors combined, student writer’s block can often follow.

Tackling the Subject Is the First Cure to Writer’s Block
Before you can write about a subject, you must understand it. Unless it is an English or journalism class, the entire purpose of the assignment is to prove you understand the subject matter. Writing about a subject cannot be done from a stance of ignorance. The writing assignment forces the student to find out enough to be able to repeat it back for the teacher. A student trying to avoid studying is not going to do well with the writing assignment. Teachers know this, which is why they create writing assignments. To get the writing assignment done, the student needs to roll up his or her sleeves and learn. This may be frustrating to some, but really, that is what school is all about. A student should study as though the future depends on it, because it does.

Handling the Technical Aspects of Writing to Overcome Writer’s Block
Not knowing how to write well can undermine the willingness to write. For high school students the task is a bit easier. School at this level should be designed to teach writing skills. Do not pass up the opportunity to learn while at the high school level, especially if no plans for college exist. Being able to express oneself clearly goes a long, long way in the real world. If the skill is not there, write anyway. Good teachers will help students to improve writing skills.

For college students, the task of becoming a good writer is hopefully based on a good education in high school. If not, do not shy away from extra study to find out how it is done. With the Internet available, it is quite easy to find a site that describes how an essay is written, how a term paper is written and so on. Students should use these resources and model their work after them. This is a learning exercise in itself. Making good use of such resources early on in college enables students to write without them in the following college years.

Coming Up with Content to Overcome Writer’s Block
Coming up with enough to say can be a problem even with an assignment as short as one page. In college, a much longer piece may be expected. For one to five pages of content, start by writing a paragraph about the basic ideas that need to be covered. Then, take each sentence and change it into a title for a new paragraph. Some shifting of words might be necessary to make titles, but that’s not the point. The point is to lay the subject matter out. For a longer writing assignment covering many pages, write out a one page essay covering the entire subject. Pull this one-page essay apart to find all the different subjects touched upon and use them to write paragraphs or even entire pages of material.

Basics of Overcoming Student Writer’s Block
These are basic strategies to overcome student writer’s block. More reasons may exist for having trouble writing and other solutions may need to be applied to those. Hopefully, the above points cover what a student needs to get back to writing so that the assignment can be completed.

28 July 2011

Writer's Block: Bouncing Back from Failure

Failure Can Bring on Writer’s Block
One of the most devastating ways to wind up with writer’s block is for a published work to fail. This can be as simple as an unpopular blog post or as major as a book that did not sell. Whatever the size of the piece, learning that the writing was not popular can ruin the desire to write more.

Writer’s Block from Simple Sources
Even a one-page article can draw in unwanted criticism. An idea that seemed good upon writing may draw in comments that surprise the writer. With today’s social media commentary available on blogs, a writer can hear some intensely negative statements. Some writing can even start online feuds.

Failure of a Pet Manuscript Can Cause Writer’s Block
Most writers have a favorite story they are passionate about. The story is at their core and they long to share it. If this work is shot down, a writer can feel as though his or her entire career has failed. Pet projects, favorite subjects, core beliefs or any deep-seated subject the author chooses to share may cause a negative effect if it is not well accepted. Coming back from such a blow is difficult, but it is not impossible.

Coming Back from a Failure as a Writer
The real secret to coming back from such a failure is to properly define what a writer is. A writer is someone who writes. Is a writer someone who writes just one book? Perhaps, but, truly, if one book is possible, then so are others. Writing is not something that can be capped or have limits set to it. It is endless. It can be produced continuously. To believe that one book is all a writer is worth is not true. Writers write. Coming back from failure as a writer is simply a matter of volume. If the one mere piece of writing fails, write more. With diligence, the failed book or project will be dwarfed by other writings produced.

Become a Better Writer While Overcoming Writer’s Block
Often times, the failed work is an early work. Beginning writers are rarely great writers. Writing is a skill that takes practice. Each new work is usually better than the last. The lessons learned carry forward, making each new effort an improved product. This is why continuing to write is essential. If you have failed as a writer, the solution is to keep writing, not to quit. Continuing on will hone the skills needed to be a better writer. Stopping will leave you at the skill level at which you quit. If you truly dream of being a writer, continuing onward is the only option.

How to Become a Better Writer
Not all advice is bad advice. Make no mistake; writers get a lot of bad advice about their craft. It falls in the lap of every writer to differentiate between good advice and destructive advice. If your work has failed, your technical skill as a writer may need improvement. Don’t be too prideful to accept instruction. Joining a writing group that gives constructive, positive advice is a good idea. A good writing group will improve the skills of a writer and will make the writer want to write more. If the group does not inspire both, move on to one that does.

The Solution to Writer’s Block Brought on by Failure
The solution is an easy one. Don’t stop. Do not quit because of a failure. Even if the failure is central to your dream of being a writer, realize that writer’s write for their entire lives. A book is just one step along the way. Writing continuously and in volume will have the effect of overcoming any failure of a past work. Bury that failure with a mountain of other works. You can only improve by doing so. While you are burying it, you’ll be writing.

23 July 2011

Writer's Block: Bouncing Back from Rejection

Rejection Can Induce Writer’s Block
Few things can douse the fires of creativity more than rejection. Creating a written work that does not please the intended audience can be crushing. Knowing how to bounce back from such a blow is important. It can be done and it should be done.

A Rejection Letter Is No Excuse to Quit
Receiving rejection letters is hardest for beginners. The writer pours his or her soul into the manuscript and the editor sends a response back saying it is not what the publication needs. Published authors seem to pay little attention to one rejection letter. Those who succeed at getting published apparently don’t pay any attention to a stack of rejections. If the first ten editors don’t want it, one of the next ten might.

Writer’s Block Can Follow Criticism from Colleagues
Rejection from colleagues can also hurt self-esteem. Writers who have created a piece that their fellows don’t admire can feel as though they have failed. Further, this group will likely add comments and suggestions to the their lukewarm reactions.

Lukewarm Response from Loved Ones
Less than enthusiastic responses from loved ones or friends can hurt the most. Some expect this group to enjoy the work as much as they do. This rarely ever happens. Familiarity tends to mute the responses to written works. A certain distance, or personal unfamiliarity with the author apparently lends to desirability of the work.

Writer’s Block Can Follow Perceived Rejection
Writers block can ensue after any of these so-called rejections. The truth is that these are not failures. Editors are overrun by manuscripts and often do not have the time to look at all of them. A single glance might be all you get. Colleagues, friends and family may be too familiar with the writer. The closeness or familiarity lets these readers too far into the zone of the writer. The public, apparently, enjoys reading the works of those distant from them, rather than those close. Fighting this will likely be impossible and may lead to further disappointment.

The Solution to Writer’s Block
The solution to this form of writer’s block is not hard to describe. Don’t let it bother you.

Editors Want to Help Writers
To deal with the rejection from editors realize that you are not dealing with an issue of acceptance or non-acceptance. It is purely a matter of business. The solution is to find out what writing techniques catch the eye of an editor in those first few seconds. Lists of do’s and don’t’s are strewn far and wide across the Internet. Use them. Writing techniques can and do make a difference. Read advice from editors. They seem more than happy to tell writers what they want and don’t want. Read these articles and do what they ask.

Avoid Rejection from Loved Ones
To deal with the rejection from colleagues, friends and family, the solution is very simple. Don’t show them your work. Or, if you must show it to them, do so with absolutely no expectations for their response. Believing that they must like it for it to be good is just plain wrong. People close to the writer may very well give a poor response to the written product even if it is quite good. Put no stock whatsoever into what people close to you think of your work.

Join a Group of Like-Minded Writers
A great way to overcome the issue of rejection is to join a writer’s group with a positive attitude. Shop around. Groups exist that will tear writers to pieces so watch out for those. When looking for a group, the writer should consider that he or she is shopping. If a group heartlessly tears the work apart, that group really isn’t good for writers, or at least for beginning writers. If a group makes the writer want to quit, it is not a good group. Good groups will make writers want to write more.

Be Ready for Rejection
Putting on a good set of emotional armor isn’t a bad idea either. Be ready for some criticism. Some of it will be of no value, some of it will, but if a writer puts his or her work out there, evaluation will surely follow. Be ready for it.

Becoming a Better Writer
A writer who uses criticism to his or her advantage will become a better writer. The critique that tells the writer to hang it up should be tossed in the garbage. Advice that builds good writing skills and corrects obvious errors is usable advice. Dividing these two types of criticism into the appropriate category may be what is needed.

End Writer’s Block by Choice
Lastly, if a person wants to be a writer, advice to the contrary should be ignored. No writer starts out will all the skills needed to achieve his or her goals. Comments from others should be used as tools. These tools should be distanced from emotional response. For those who has stopped writing because of negative criticism, the best advice is to simply brush off the dust and get back on the horse. Writers who haven’t reached their goals aren’t finished yet.

15 July 2011

Writers Block: When You Have Too Much to Say

A Writer with a Lot to Say Can Develop Writers Block
One of the most peculiar types of writer’s block a person can encounter is having too much to say. A host of reasons exist to want to get writing out there. A person could have a long story to tell in book form while another could be bristling with blog posts yet unwritten. These are not the only reason a person could wind up with a lot to say. Plenty of people have large “mental stores” of information they want to share.

Handle the Writers Block
When having too much to say leads to writer’s block, it is usually a matter of organization. Writers can have a lot to say while not knowing what to put down first. A couple of methods exist to handle this.

Outline to Prevent Writers Block
If a writer is not organized, he or she probably does not have an outline. Outlines solve most organization problems for writers. Outlines force writers to organize their thoughts. Writing an outline will show where the flaws are in the overall plan. It will also solidify a writing plan that is easy to follow.

Organize Your Writing Tasks
Outlines solve problems for a single piece of work but they do not always help the writer with multiple projects. For this a writer needs a strategy. To achieve this a writer should:
  • List what needs to be written
  • Organize the list per personal priorities 
  • Outline each piece to be written 
  • Decide when they will be written 
  • If a deadline is looming, set targets for completion 
  • Get busy writing!
Keep Going Until You Have Solved Your Writers Block
If this does not solve the problem, the writer’s block may have a different cause, so feel free to look back over the other sections in this series on writer’s block.

For those with a lot to say, organization can go a long way.

I hope this has been helpful.

09 July 2011

Writer's Block: Targets

Set Targets to overcome writer’s block

Discipline is one of the best ways to overcome writer’s block. But how does one apply discipline? Scolding yourself will only go so far, especially if it is at the end of the day. Getting down on yourself for not producing does nothing toward getting the piece of writing done. Regret and blame are what you are trying to avoid!

One of the best ways of getting through a writing piece from beginning to end is to set targets. If you intend to write 1000 words, set yourself a target for each one hundred segment. Trying to beat the clock by timing each paragraph might pull you through.

Increase your writing speed by setting targets specific to your genre

Being target-oriented might work better with technical writing than with fiction, of course. Technical writing usually has the details known but is not all that inspirational. Fictional writing is generally more inspired but requires a working imagination. Still, fictional writing sometimes works well with a clock to watch. You will probably have to give yourself more time per paragraph fiction. The idea is to overcome your writer’s block. Using the clock to push you along may help. If it seems your writing isn’t as good when it is timed, refer back to my earlier post on not knowing how to get where you are going. Getting it written is the goal. Use the all the writer’s block tools to get past it, including setting targets.

I hope this has been helpful.