Writer’s Block – Is it really a thing or is it just another form of procrastination?


During the holiday season, I took two weeks off from my day job. It was a great period of time to stay home and become reacquainted with my family. I normally travel four days per week for about 46 weeks out of the year, so it’s nice to become part of the household for a while. Usually, I think my wife is secretly ready to send me back out on the road after an extended time at home.

One of the things that I was going to do during that period was set aside time every day to write. I looked forward to this break for months so that I could make great strides on my next book and other writing ventures that I have in the works.

Do you know how much writing I did during this time period? Very little. If I cranked out a new chapter on the 3rd installment of the Frank Rozzani series, that would be generous. Now, as a new year has started and I’m back on the road, I am on fire with writing, recording an audio book, and thinking of all of the things I want to accomplish this year.

So what happened when I had all of this free time and produced virtually nothing?

I refuse to call it writer’s block. It was more like writer’s blob. I was a blob during the holiday season, an eating, drinking, binge-watching, late-sleeping blob. I didn’t have a routine. I didn’t have to organize my day so that I could find time to write. I had time, lots of it, and most of it, in terms of writing, was wasted.

I have never really had writer’s block in the classic sense. I have yet to run out of ideas. I have quite the opposite problem where I have many ideas that all want me to act on them simultaneously. I wrote the 20 page short story, “Lucy’s Christmas Miracle” on a two and a half hour flight from Boston to Atlanta.

When I’m busy and traveling, I can’t wait to write. It is all I think about and, as soon as I meet my work obligations, it is the first thing I do. When I’m home, however, I have my family, friends, and activities that take front and center.

This makes me nervous on my quest to be a full-time writer. If I don’t have the travel and the work to help organize my time, am I going to waste time like I did during the holidays? I don’t think that I will for two reasons; 1) I would be bored very quickly and 2) I would need to earn some money which is a highly motivating factor.

With my personal quirks covered, I think there are times when writer’s block or creative block has hit me in my professional life. With this in mind, I’d like to share some of the tips that I’ve used to overcome that creative procrastination and paralysis.

1) Eliminate distractions – It’s really easy to get distracted if you don’t have the right writing mindset. This doesn’t mean that you have to lock yourself away in a soundproof room with a coffeemaker and sit down and force yourself to write until you finish a certain number of pages. I’ve written in crowded airports and on noisy flights. I think that having children gives me the ability to block out noise. What I do mean is that you need to make sure that you don’t set yourself up to fail. Don’t try to multitask. There is no such thing (more on this perhaps in a future post). Don’t say that you can watch Netflix while you write. Don’t eat your breakfast while you write. You need to fully commit to the world you are writing in and become immersed in it. When you do this, the words will flow and nothing around you will matter.

2) Pick a consistent time to write each day – When I travel, I’m generally in my client’s office until 6 PM. I then arrive at the hotel around 6:30. Next, I change and hit the workout room for about 30 minutes. I then shower, make some dinner and eat. This means that it is generally about 8 PM before I can sit down and write. Lately I’ve been spending an hour recording a chapter of my audio book and then spend two hours writing. On days that I travel, I use my current two and a half hour flight to write on the plane.  With this schedule, in a given week, I can write about one or two chapters (about 3,000 – 5,000 words) per week.  I’m not sure how that stacks up to full-time writers, but I do know that I wrote two novels and four short stories in the past eight months, which I think is a pretty good pace. Does my schedule get compromised occasionally? Of course it does. I have a demanding job with looming deadlines and pressures. I occasionally have to go out to dinner while I’m out of town. If I use the schedule that I described, however, as a guideline, then I have something to shoot for.

3) When you’re not writing, think about your writing – I would love to say that every moment that I am at work, I am 100% focused on work for ten hours per day. This would not be the truth. It also would not be healthy. There is plenty of time available for me to think about writing and where I am with my latest project. The shower is a great think tank. So are meetings when the particular part of the meeting doesn’t apply to the work you are doing. There is lunch, the commute time, and that time just before you go to sleep. If you think about your writing, it will be easier to focus on what needs to be written when the time comes.

4) Read, read, read – One of my earlier blogs pondered the issue of whether writers read and what should they read. I am one of those people that has to read in order to go to sleep. It’s usually fiction, but occasionally, I read non-fiction related to writing or some aspect of business for my day job. Reading is like studying for writing. You learn from other authors. You learn both good and bad habits from them. If you follow me on Goodreads or subscribe to my newsletter, you know that I generally critique 2-3 books every two weeks. This means I’m reading 4-6 books per month. When do I find time to do this? At the gate in the airport, on the bus to the rental car, before I go to sleep for about 30-45 minutes, and on my short connection from Atlanta to Jacksonville every week. Also, waiting for my doctor’s appointment or for a haircut is a great time to read a couple of chapters. I love to read and I have read voraciously since I was a 2nd grader. You learn things, escape into other worlds, and learn about the craft of writing. If you want to learn to paint, you study the techniques of the masters. If you want to be a musician, you do the same. Writing is no different. If you don’t learn from those that have mastered the craft and have become successful, you are cheating yourself from a great deal of knowledge.

I hope this blog has opened your eyes. I personally don’t believe in writer’s block as an affliction. I think it’s more of a time management or procrastination issue. Maybe I’m lucky. As always, I’m sure your comments will let me know if you agree or disagree.  I look forward to interacting with you and sharing ideas.

Thanks.

About Don Massenzio

Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York, to first generation Italian American parents. He is an avid reader. Some of his favorite authors include Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. His favorite book of all time is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

Don began writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate travel. He uses writing as a therapeutic outlet. He recently took the jump to sharing his work with others.

His first published long work is the novel, Frankly Speaking. It is the first of what will be a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The book is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from 70’s television and The Rockford Files.

The second Frank Rozzani detective novel, Let Me Be Frank is now available.

Prior to finishing his books, his published work was comprised of short stories that will be merged into a collection in the near future.

Find out more about Don at his web site:

www.donmassenzio.com

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17 thoughts on “Writer’s Block – Is it really a thing or is it just another form of procrastination?

  1. since most of my writings are all about me me and ME and my adventures in BekkiWorld, it just alaways flows.. now, wnen I was a kid and writing it centered around my living on a ranch with everything purple and lavender in my room, all my tack and my horse was a palomino.. I cruised and wore out many a pencil back then.. but it was still all about ME ME and ME.. so as long as I don’t deviate from my fascinating subject matter, I have flow..

    i’m always asking the back story now, b/c I love what I find out on E and talk shows about some ‘star’ or another, just because I’ve also been a publisher of my own magazines (back to the ME ME and ME) and an investigative reporter and i’m snoopy as all hell.. but yeah, love the back stories, too. makes me feel like THE INSIDER..

    WRITE ON, my friend.. I love your work.. and the characters we all grow to love about 1/3 thru the first book..

    Bekki

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to suffer from “writer’s block” but discovered it was more fear than anything. Now, I’m like you: too many ideas and not enough time to work them all. It is definitely a time management thing. I try to carve out time to both read and write. I find it imperative to make me a better writer. Better than any “how to” book on writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • it’s only difficult if you ALLOW it to be.. use it for the excitment and vibrations that aren’t dead silence.. absorb the energy, if it’s not the energy you like, YOU have the power to change it.. never use excuses, always just DO it!! write down the snippets that flash thru your mind before they’re gone.. and compile them and the thoughts may take you on a whole different ride on the rollercoaster.. open your mind to what you ARE being told!!! go for it! it might not be the path that you originally wanted to go on!

      The adventure awaits! work it! and WRITE ON!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve always had too many ideas from the get go. Can’t say as I’ve ever had writer’s block. Might be because I take a vacation from writing. Similar to your 2 weeks with family. After that ideas quickly become outlines and then screenplays. Sometimes our brain needs a break too.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post!
    I could relate to so much of what you wrote.
    I have been a writer since I was seven years old. I wrote my first book when I was 8. It wasn’t very good but then I was 8! I never believed in writer’s block until last year I’ve been a professional writer my whole life. Even when I was at school I had a teen column in a newspaper. I had deadlines. No time for the dreaded WB. And then last year I got seriously ripped off by a publisher (well documented elsewhere) and I hit a crisis point. After having over 100 M/M erotic romance novels published I hit a wall and couldn’t write. It wasn’t laziness or fear. It was sheer despair. To have so much money stolen from me made me wonder if I wanted to keep doing this and the answer finally was yes. I do it because I love it. There are many reasons people experience WB. I don’t wish the real thing on anybody. I lost my faith in people and the world…I got it back and I am grateful because I love what I do. Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, A. when my age was in single digits, I used to write books about horses and my bedroom and cow-girl outfits and the horse’s trappings all in shades of purples. Then I moved up to comedy short stories. Then I started publishing a monthly magazine for a decade. My editorials were hilarious, well, some ppl laughed, but yeah, monthly dead lines darn near brought me to my knees. Then, i collected them all and published them on amazon and kobo.. but again, since it’s always all about me me ME my writing sorta flows.

      I would love to read your erotic writings.. after reading the sleeping beauty series that ALMOST took me where I wanted to go I started writing my ownand made it to the ‘right place’.

      thank YOU for the great post AJ, keep on truckin! and WRITE ON!

      Like

      • Hi Bekki, my first book – written at age 8 was about horses too! I was obsessed with horses and death (my mother died when I was six). Everybody died including the horses! Anyway thanks for the great response. I hope you read and enjoy one of my stories 🙂 I’d like to read yours, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • well, they (horses) are big and powerful and seemingly omnipotent.. until your precious horse passed away.. mine were all I could think about (little girl’s new thoughts on something big and powerful between her legs?) sorry if that offended peeps, but we ARE erotic writers.. LOL.. anyway, mine came to screeching halt at a rodeo when I was about 12.. during a figure 8 sort of race, one of the horse’s hooves sliced another horse’s throat and it died in front of me.. no more rodeos, circuses, etc EVER again for me.. scary and iccky crap could happen!

        i’m not sure if you can see or my direct email is visible to you, but yes! let’s exchange stories! mine are more in the line of 50 shades and a bit beyond.. my email address, Don, if this is ok.. bekkihere@gmail.com .. hope it’s ok, or aj, friend me on facebook.. Bekki.Shanklin.. wait. I can see all my info below.. maybe you can too.. anyway,. Holla at yo gurl! LOL my daughter says that.. LOL

        Like

    • @AJ Llewellyn — I can relate – I lost my faith in an entire field when my work was plagiarized and my content and ideas blatantly stolen from me and sold in competition as the content of one of my students who had the funds to out-marketed me.

      It broke my heart – which is still quite raw, actually. It never shut down my urge to write, however, or my ability to do so. I simply changed formats and stopped training.

      It HAS kept me from publishing my books, however, mostly because I am furious that I most likely will be forced to do the “permissions” dance for my OWN original work, unless I can justify the cost to take them to court to establish original “ownership” and creation rights.
      xx,
      mgh
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
      ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
      “It takes a village to transform a world!”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post, Don. Well written and excellent discussion. I do believe in WB, simply haven’t experienced it personally. My ADD Poster Girl brain natters at me constantly, and writing slows it down enough to follow my own train of thought. 🙂

    I have also experienced how things slow down when structure disappears. I think that’s how the old saw about giving something that needs to be done to a busy person originated. Your travel schedule sounds brutal! What do you DO?
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

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