I write plenty of words but I’m having trouble writing anything useful. Which at first sounds like the opposite of writer’s block, but it’s really just writer’s block coupled with an inability to sit still mentally. So I’m going to take a breath and find some new strategies to deal with this particular form of that cursed mental virus (since my usual strategy of “just write and it’ll work eventually” is already not working).
- Slow down and take stock. Look through what I’m already working on in my writing, figure out what works, what doesn’t, and thus what kinds of things get priority.
- Limit media intake. Hard because of finale season coming up, but maybe if I just stopped filling up my brain with so much stuff, my own projects would go more smoothly.
- Find the project that really grabs me. Try a few, play around with stuff, force myself to work on something for longer than five minutes just to test it out. Maybe it won’t be the project I “should” be working on, but I am my own boss and this is one of the few perks of that. Besides, forcing myself to do something that makes me miserable isn’t good for me or the project.
- Figure out my goals for the next month or so, and find the writing that contributes to that goal. Because what makes the writing “useful”, anyway? I can’t know that until I’ve evaluated what I actually want to do with myself. Not for forever, just for the next month or so to make sure I have something I’m working toward, and thus can justifiably feel good or bad about the work I do.
- I could also find a purpose for the writing I’m already doing, and make it useful. Apply it to what I’m working on, or take a particular exercise and simply change the topic to my main project.
- Sleep more. This is going to be on my “gear up for a chance” lists for the rest of my life, because I will always need more sleep, and it’s hard to get it because there’s just too much interesting stuff going on to actually want to sleep. But it’s important! Recharge time means better thinking means I can actually figure out what I’m doing means more efficient and happy OCD brain.
- Adjust my daily writing goals to reflect the projects I’m working on. This one is hard for me. I make my system, and then I stick with it because I love ritual and habit. But eventually, some parts have to go, or I have to admit that a way of doing it is holding me back. For example: for the longest time I had a pretty rigorous daily word count that I filled by doing various tasks, which worked great when I only had a few novels I was working on. Eventually this stopped working because I was doing a bunch of little tasks for a dozen different projects just to fill that word count, and not focusing on anything that mattered. Now I set myself weekly and monthly targets with the aim of completing projects and submitting work and not letting my brain scatter so much.
- Just write. Yes, I know this was what I wanted to avoid in the first place, but if you’ll note the previous steps, now I theoretically have a purpose to work toward. Now that I know what my endgame is, the essential thing is to sit down and get to work on it.
So that’s my battle plan. Anyone else have a way to work through an inability to focus and get something done?