Find Out Why You are NOT Writing

Sunday, July 23, 2017
I have to share a recent writing coach story with you because I think it's a typical example of what happens to some writers, if not all, at one time or another. One of my clients has a great idea for a paranormal mystery/romance series, and she is a terrific writer. We have met a few times (over Skype) and discussed plot and character ideas, her story outline, and chapter 1. But now she is stalled, and so the last coaching session, we spent discussing why.

I threw some typical ideas and questions out there: Have you tried scheduling your writing like a doctor's appointment? Do you have unreal expectations--maybe you should just write 500 words a day? Should you start with a shorter project, so you can feel a sense of accomplishment?

Finally, after listening to her telling me what she labeled herself as excuses, I said, "It sounds like you're not working on what you're actually passionate about. You have a good idea. You could potentially make money on this, but it seems like maybe something else is calling to you."

She thought this sounded right, but she still didn't 100 percent agree, so we went back to the drawing board. I listened to her talk a while longer and heard her say, "Well, when I was writing my other two books, I had no problems." (They are non-fiction and about a medical condition she is passionate about.)

I asked, "What have you done with those two books?"

"Nothing," she said. And then I figured out the problem. She wants to write for publication--but she is never pursuing it. No wonder she doesn't have any desire to finish this mystery novel--will it too sit in a drawer or in a computer file, never to be read by anyone?

So we decided she should edit these books, work on her website, and find a way to self-publish these. By the end of the conversation, she was excited to work on this project and her entire attitude changed. Will she be any closer to finishing the novel? Well, no, but she will have experience and dedicated daily time to her writing career, which she can then use to propel herself into the world of finishing a novel.

So what's standing in your way? Currently I have a middle-grade novel that is close to being ready to send out. But another novel idea was calling to me--so I am working on that. I have to get it out of my system, and then I can turn my attention back to the middle-grade novel. 

A writing coach, partner, critique group, friend--anyone can help you with this exercise if you are making every excuse in the book NOT to work on your current WIP. Or leave a comment and let us help you here! 

Margo L. Dill is a writer, editor, and writing coach, living in St. Louis, MO. She teaches a course for WOW! called Write a Novel With a Writing Coach. Check it out in the WOW! classroom


Liz Maggio said...

Margo, this post was the kick in the butt I needed. For the longest time I've been stuck trying to write a story I think should be written rather than letting the story tell me where it's going.

Referencing your student's idea for a paranormal mystery was lucky happenstance for me. I had been trying to write an archaeological mystery set at an actual site whose history has me blindly enamored. I plotted based on cramming in as many fascinating facts about the site as possible, and I bored myself silly because the story was going nowhere. I see now that what I've always wanted to write--what my passion is for this novel--is a paranormal mystery that happens to be set at an archaeological site, and that's where I'm headed. I'll send you a postcard when I get there!

Margo Dill said...

Liz: This is so awesome! Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. I can't wait til you write it and get it published one day!

Donna Volkenannt said...

I like the way you walked your client through what was going on with her writing. It's so true that once you find your passion, happiness will follow.

My critique group inspires me and they often give me the gentle nudge I need to get moving on my WIP.

Mary Horner said...

I agree with Donna about the positive influence writing groups have on us, but also agree that we do need that "kick" sometimes! I liked the questions you asked about why she wasn't writing, and think I can relate to all of them at some point!

Margo Dill said...

Thanks, Donna! Being in a writing group with you before, I know what a good member you also are. :) And I will say it until I'm blue in the face--there is nothing more valuable than a good critique group.

Thanks, Mary. Trust me--me too. I think that's why I kept talking with her until we figured it out because it really is important to figure out WHY you are not doing something you clearly want to do. :)

Pat Wahler said...

Sometimes it helps simply to discuss what's going on with someone else - whether a group or individual. A little spark can start a roaring fire.


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