Five Obstacles to Writing Prolifically

With the weather shifting between pure heatwave and humidity as thick as soup over the last several weeks, I have been torn between starting the day by writing and starting the day with all the tasks that require leaving the house. As my experience suggests that journeys in the full sun will take longer and leave me not very productive afterward, I have mostly come down on the side of going out before mid-morning even if that does not give me time to write much. I cannot (yet) control the weather so cannot prevent any loss from this, but I have mused on what else might be eating into my writing time.

  1. Una Being Affectionate: Sometimes Una likes to seek me out to obtain affection: if I ignore her she will become louder and louder; if I do not she will follow me back to my desk and stand on the keyboard so I can more easily fuss her more.
  2. Starting a Session of Writing: My inner critic appears stronger if I have not written for a few hours. If I can write for a few minutes I can almost always rattle off several hundred words without real effort.
  3. A Lack of Nuanced Filters on Social Media: Although there are some people I follow for all their posts, there are some with whom my intersection is less wide. Even only skimming various feeds, I lose good writing time to performing the filter inside my head.
  4. (Un)natural Fear of Being Derivative: The downside of reading many many books is that I can usually think of an existing plot which is similar to another. While I am aware intellectually that there are very few plots, so the difference between books is in the fine details, I sometimes start to grind over my draft being too similar to a famous book; and each tweak seems to make the situation worse. For example, an idea inspired by Gromit Unleashed for a state-sponsored survival event started to seem very similar to Battle Royale, The Running Man, and a short story I read many years ago about a sealed wilderness as a right-of-passage; if you are concerned my inner critic missed one, it sidled up just as I thought I had a good take to whisper “Hunger Games”.
  5. Una Being Affectionate: Each morning after breakfast I sit on the sofa to finish my morning tea and read for a short while. Sometimes Una decides to curl up on me. Sometimes she curls up for only half-an-hour, so I can do some writing before starting the rest of the day. Other days she stretches out and goes to sleep until I either have to move due to cramp or mid-morning passes; these are the days I feel behind even if I subsequently achieve all my goals.
    Una being a seatbelt
    I love you so much I will expose my belly. Only a cruel person would dislodge me.
    (©Nicola Higgins)

    Perversely if I achieve my goals then am sat upon I feel a pleasant sense of rightness in the world.

Smart readers will have noticed that Una appears twice in a list of five hurdles; I fear this is an sign that I am more likely to be a cat-lover who writes than a writer who loves cats. Of course, over time Una may come to spend more time sitting on me once I have finished for the day, making the morning time more open to sacrifice.

My inner critic is also in there twice. I have no compunction about sacrificing my time with it, so will be trying to write past the issues.

The social media is more problematic. I am an intellectually curious person, so am especially prone to being niggled by not reading everything. I am also by nature polite so have difficulty with the media gurus advice of following people then putting them in a list I never really read. On the other hand I keep in touch with interesting people and discover many interesting things from the various media, so cannot just cut one out completely. Until mind-computer interfaces become ubiquitous I fear I am stuck with too much gross data.

What gets in the way of you writing? Are any of your obstacles more important than the alternative?

4 thoughts on “Five Obstacles to Writing Prolifically

  1. Laughing. I have two elderly shih tzu who feel miffed if I am writing and I have George. George is my happy place, and he happens to be a beautiful marmalade tabby. He had surgery last month a femoral head ostectomy and has needed to be coddled during recovery. Social media is another one for much the same reason. I did ghost-write a 7000 word book in two weeks, but it took a great deal of discipline to keep at it. At times my head simply felt completely empty. I am now in recovery.

    I remember reading about that prolific writer, Isaac Asimov, who worked in a dark room and scarcely came up for air. I don’t think I will ever go there. I have a wonderful husband, three grown up children and their spouses and two-and-a-half grandchildren. But you never know.


    1. I find that amount of focus is often counter-productive: I wrote over 60,000 words on various projects last November, but I did not really write – other than this blog – again until mid-January and most of that needs heavy editing.


  2. “A catless writer is almost inconceivable. It’s a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys.” ~Barbara Holland


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