Getting back on the bike ....


The hardest thing about writing is ... keeping on with the writing.


If you're writing consistently, YES!! Keep going with your awesome badass self! This post isn't for you.


When the words flow and self-confidence soars, crafting a story is as sweet a high as anything known on earth. It's better than the best chocolate. Or puppy breath. Or ten hours of solid sleep.


But there will be times when an epic log is chucked between the spokes of our creative bicycle tires. We'll go ass over tits to the ground. We'll lay there rattled and dazed and fighting for breath.


And we'll shy away from ever getting on that gods-be-damned creative bicycle again. Even if it breaks our heart. This happened to me at the start of autumn last year. I realized that a set of novels I'd been working on for a decade were based on a severely flawed premise, unseen by my younger, more naive self. I felt like my ability to create a world of meaning was zilch, and there was no coming back from that debacle.


I was scared by this royal fuck up. My brain lies when I'm scared. What if it happens again?


Your metaphorical log might be as simple as realizing your plot resembles Swiss cheese. Real life might throw illness or emergency in your way. It could be you get your first rejection--or fiftieth--and it kicks your shakey confidence to the frozen, filthy curb.


Every day you say, "I'll get back to the story soon." Tomorrow something else comes along to steal your focus and your time while you wait for the stars to align.

The secret is this: much like for death and having kids, there is no perfect time to write. All we are given is the imperfect now.


If you truly wish to have your stories out in the world, then it is time to make it so. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. Bottom line. It doesn't matter what. Pick up your pen, or put fingers to the keyboard and shove some words on a page. Our fears won't fuck off on their own; they get all warm and cozy inside our brains.


Here are a few nudges to restart your mojo:

  • Do quickie fifteen-minute sprints on the first idea that comes to mind

  • Write dialogue between you and your MC. Ask what their issue is, what they want, what keeps them going. Be prepared for some stunning answers

  • Describe a setting with the most luscious, preposterous words you can dredge up. Do it again for another location

  • Free write for a half an hour. Keep going if you're interested or having fun. See what is there when the timer pings

  • Go to a writers meet-up and lift a cuppa with some like-minded peeps. Then come home and write a page. Go every week

  • Journal. Use a real pen on real paper. Ask yourself what holds you back, or the worst thing that could happen. Be honest with yourself. Do it every day

  • Hook up with a writing coach to help find your creative juice again

  • Read stories you love. Read voraciously. Read broadly. Gobble those words down

  • Find a writing buddy to help keep you accountable and give you company while you create


The one rule for all of these is No Judgment. Tell your inner critic to STFU. It isn't their time. This is about progress, not polish. This is about fun and exploration and recovering your creative balance.


We are our own worst enemies, so keep moving forward, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph until your brain stops being a dick. The only way past fear is to keep slogging ahead. As long as it takes. Word by beautiful, painstaking word. Until we remember why we love writing.


Be courageous. Get back on the bike. It's waiting.


We're writers, damn it. Let's do the thing.




Leave a comment about what you're writing, and what is freaking you out. How are you getting past it?

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All books referenced here or on my blog can be found at bookshop.org, an independent book service