Every writer has writing problems. Many of them. This is good news, and bad news. The good news is that your writing problems help you to grow as a writer. The bad news is that you may be intimidated by your challenges… AND you’ll always have challenges. When you see challenges as insurmountable, or think that there’s something wrong, your output will slow, and this makes your problems worse.
Each and every writing problem you’ll ever have has a solution. All you need to do is keep writing.
Tip: everything you write will have challenges, so work on a couple of projects at a time. If you get stuck — you need to talk to a specific person and he won’t be available for a week — work on something else. Make sure that in addition to client projects, you’re working on your own projects.
Let’s look at how to solve your problems step by step.
1. What’s the Problem?
Start by defining your problem, in writing. Yes, write it down. Often, you’ll see the solution immediately.
Let’s say that you’re stuck on a project. Write it down. “I’m stuck on this white paper, because_” Do you know the reason? Perhaps you do, or you don’t. With white papers, and many other writing projects, you may get stuck because you haven’t done enough research.
So, that’s your next step.
Big tip: DO NOT go directly to research. Write down your problem.
2. Research the Problem
If you’re working on a client project, call the client, and let him know where and how you’re stuck. Has the client given you enough materials? Perhaps you’ll need to interview someone: a subject matter expert.
You may need to research online, or at the library.
Have you started writing yet?
3. Write — Make a Start
If you haven’t started writing, do that now. Remember, shitty first drafts. A first draft’s sole job is to clarify your thinking. No one will see this draft, so be happy to be writing rubbish. At least you’re writing. 🙂
Write as much as you can, as you continue to research. Write down any questions you have, right in the draft.
4. Get Help
Still got a problem? It’s time to get help. Make a list of people who can help you, and call them one by one.
If you’re having challenges with your fiction, brainstorm. Find someone to brainstorm with you. Beta readers are good for this, because they know your genre.
Maybe It’s Time to Let It Go…
STILL got a problem? It may be time to toss in the towel. This happens very occasionally, and it’s not a bad thing. Maybe a project just isn’t for you. There’s no shame in this. It happens to many writers. Let the client know as soon as you can, and back out gracefully.
Be aware that sometimes you can’t complete a project, and it’s no one’s fault. A client wants you to write something, but he’s unsure of exactly what he wants. He gives you an unclear brief (description of the project), and you don’t have the experience to see that it’s unclear.
Never allow this kind of project to linger on. It steals energy from you. If you haven’t done enough to earn the deposit the client’s paid, return it. Focus on projects you CAN complete. All you can do is the best you can.
5. Write MORE!
Most writing problems are solved at the first step: “what’s the problem?” Writing down your challenge clarifies it, and the solution is obvious. I’m fond of saying that writing solves all the problems you’re likely to have, and that’s true. Make sure that you’re always working on your own projects, as well as client projects.
Writers write. So keep writing. 😉
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