Almost every struggling writer I work with has the same question: How can I be more productive? Most of them have tried countless different strategies to achieve this end, and if you’re a writer yourself you probably have too. There are all kinds of programs to help you “stay disciplined” and all kinds of apps to give you a “kick in the ass.”
Usually, when I talk to these struggling writers they all tell me a variation of the same theme, which is that they’re basically afraid that the problem is that they’re lazy and if they don’t constantly push themselves and force themselves to adhere to a strict writing practice, they’ll go off the rails and never write anything at all.
Every writer struggles with the fear of being judged at some point. It’s hard not to when the whole point of your creative work is to ultimately put it out there in the world for other people to read. But for most writers, this fear of being judged is a manageable struggle. Sure, it sucks and it’s uncomfortable, but it can also be negotiated and moved past. It doesn’t stop them from writing or from sharing their writing with the world.
However, there is a certain type of writer who not only struggles with the fear of judgment, but is completely paralyzed by it. This type of writer often reports extremely high levels of anxiety when they even think about showing someone else what they’ve written. They also often feel like everyone is observing them, all the time, and so the judgment coming at them isn’t solely limited to their ability as a writer.
All types of writing can be difficult, let’s be real. But it’s my opinion that fiction writing is THE hardest type of writing for a certain type of writer. It’s the intuitive writers that struggle the most with the fiction writing process, from beginning to end.
So, how do you know if you’re an “intuitive writer” and if that’s why you struggle more than most when it comes to fiction writing?
Both writers of fiction and nonfiction run into roadblocks with their writing, that’s not surprising. However, there is a very specific block that seems to especially plague fiction writers. Usually, it happens before the writer has even started writing their story, but it’s also very common for this to occur once the writer is about one third or halfway through the project.
This writing block is rooted in a lie that the writer tells themselves that they don’t even know is a lie—and they don’t know it’s a lie because so many mainstream writing guides and sources of writing advice online tell them that they have to do this same thing too. So, when they can’t do it, or they run into severe difficulties with it, they immediately blame themselves and go into creative shut-down.
Almost every time I do a consultation with a new client, it’s a writer who is absolutely sure they know what their problem is. Much of the time they tell me they need to learn “craft and structure.” Sometimes they say they need to take more classes or read more books on writing. Frequently I hear that they just need to be “better,” with all the vague intention that implies.
But one thing is always the same. They are paralyzed, stuck, frustrated, and feeling hopeless and sad about their writing.