Writer’s Block No More

I recently heard Jerry B. Jenkin’s say, “No one gets ‘worker’s block’ as an excuse. There’s always work to do.”

writer's block

I enjoyed being one of the speakers at the Writing for the Soul conference with Jerry B. Jenkins and team this past weekend.

I was a part of a panel discussion Q&A at the end of the conference, and a participant asked how we deal with writer’s block. Since Jerry has authored more than 180 books, 16 of which have reached the New York Times bestseller list, he definitely had an opinion. I quickly wrote down Jerry’s response, which is both challenging and empowering.

He made it clear that writer’s block is never an excuse, in the same way an employee can’t show up for work one day and say, “I can’t work today. I have worker’s block.”

There’s always work to do, even if things aren’t flowing the way you want. Jerry said that he always starts his day by rereading and editing his work the day before, which launches him into his work for the day. Great advice for every writer!

I’ve found two other ways to avoid writer’s block:

  1. Write what you know and out of the overflow of your heart. Eric Smith addresses this issue in my How I Write interview with him here.
  2. Have a plan and stick to it. If you have a written-out plan for your book (an outline) before you start writing the core content, you can follow your heart (whatever it may be that day) and choose to write any portion of the book you want. Find additional tips in my post Increase Your Writing Speed.

If you’ve used writer’s block as an excuse, don’t let it be an excuse any more. There’s always work that can be done.

Question: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Getting Unstuck in Your Writing

I recently received an email from a friend who is retired and writing his memoirs for his grandchildren. He shared what he did to get out of writer’s block and onto what his audience wanted to hear. After reading it, I knew I had to share his thoughts with you. Thanks, Dave, for sending this to me and for allowing me to share it with others.

There was a time about three or four months ago when I had a significant block for about thirty to forty minutes. Maybe that doesn’t qualify as a true block, but for me it was. I was sitting down to write and I could not come up with what was the next thing I wanted to say. I prayed and nothing came.

After that period of time I mentioned (thirty to forty minutes), I suddenly recalled what you had written in your book. I think it was the Spirit reminding me. You said in effect, “Don’t try to figure out what you want to say to your audience, but ask yourself what your audience wants to hear from you.”

As I thought about that, I realized the truth of that statement. I was trying to figure out in my head what I thought I should say rather than listening to the Holy Spirit tell me what to say. In my head there was no way I would know what I should say to my grandkids, but I knew His Spirit would speak to my spirit as to what I should say.

It struck me quite deeply that when I put my head or brain before the Spirit, that is a misalignment. The correct alignment is the Holy Spirit to my spirit to my soul (mind, will, emotion) and then to my body. When I made that correction the words just flowed. It was amazing to me and taught me a big lesson that I’ve applied many times since.

So much of my life has been this way until recent years, and that’s gradually changing. It is part of the Western culture that we live in—to be headstrong and spirit weak. 

I like that Dave did two things here:

  • He stopped and thought of the perspective of the reader – “What do they want to hear?”
  • He listened to the inspiration that God provided. God knows what he wants Dave to write and is willing to share.

If you’ve been running up against writer’s block lately, give these two things a try.

Question: What is something you do to get out of a writer’s block? Leave your comment below.

5 Top Posts, 7 Recommended Posts

The last few weeks I have been completing a few book projects and have not taken the time for my blog posts. While I finish up one more project, I’d like to share my five most popular posts since I started this blog, plus a few more that I think are helpful.

So if you’re new to this blog or haven’t read any of those listed below, pick one or a few that may be of interest of you today and continue on the path to write your book.

5 Top Posts

  1. Don’t Add. Multiply. Ten Benefits of Writing a Book
  2. 8 Questions to Help You Choose What to Write About for Your Book
  3. How to Create an Attractive and Professional Cover Design for Your Book
  4. 7 Tips to Choose a Winning Title and Subtitle for a Nonfiction Book
  5. Trust Takes Time, but Time Doesn’t Build Trust: Are You Leading Wisely?

7 Recommended Posts (that are not mentioned above)

Question: Which of these posts is most helpful for you and why? Leave your comment below.

The Best Perspective to Appeal to Your Reader

Since 1995, the book The 5 Love Languages has successfully driven home the point that you must speak the language of the person you’re trying to reach, or you’re probably not communicating successfully.

Translate, or lose your audience

Translate, or lose your audience.

Writers confront the same issue. If you don’t translate what you want to say into the language of your listeners, you may not be reaching them. Now I’m not talking about adults trying to speak teenager (that usually doesn’t work) or feeling you need to swear in order to make your dialogue more realistic for the world.

I’m not suggesting you change your voice; however, I do recommend you change your perspective and write from the perspective of your readers so you can use your voice to address the felt need of your audience. [Read more…]

One Lie that Hinders Progress and Success

A few years ago I watched Tony Robbins expose the deception of trying. It forever changed the way I look at my efforts.

If Tony Robbins isn’t your cup of tea, how about Yoda from Star Wars fame. He said to Luke after Luke said he would try, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

After thinking about these issues, I ran across a great post on The Difference Between Trying and Doing by Michael Hyatt, which pretty much says what I want to say here. So instead of reinventing the wheel, I would like to encourage you to…

  • Watch the Tony Robbins’ video for a few minutes starting at 9:30 (note that there is some bleeped profanity) or read the post by Michael Hyatt.
  • Consider if you have used the excuse, “Well, I tried,” when your plans don’t turn out quite like you want.

I should qualify this post by saying that sometimes a goal needs to be put in a timeout chair because to move forward would not be healthy or wise. But be very clear that this activity is off the front burner—actually, off the stove completely and on the shelf until the right time so you don’t trick yourself into believing you’re trying when really you’re taking no action at all.

Also, if you are a recovering perfectionist or are performance oriented, you may be trying too hard or in the wrong way. Sometimes you’ve done all that you can do, and since you can’t (or shouldn’t) control others, you have to rest in the fact that you’ve given yourself the best opportunity to succeed. The rest is in God’s hands.

Having said that, usually there is a specific action that will take us from where we are to one step closer to where we want to be. What’s the step for you?

[Read more…]