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Writing As Therapy To Keep Writing
by S.J. Connolly-Reisner

All writers have struggled with situations that hinder their productivity. Iíve heard a lot of writers say that they donít know where to go with their stories, have no new ideas, are too affected by their mood to write, or they simply do not have the time or energy to write. Iíve seriously thought about this over the years, and came to realize  that the stress of daily happenings, disorganization, and underdeveloped time management skills are the main reasons surrounding these complaints.

Most writers struggling with this issue tend to ask: How can I be more productive with my writing? Successful writers will tell you to write, and others will add to this by saying write what you know.  This confuses a lot of writers because they donít know where to start. Your best bet is to start here.

The real question you should be asking yourself is: How can I write to become more productive with my writing? Think about it. The last time you went through a writing hiatus what was happening in your day-to-day life? Did you just get married? Have a baby? Have money problems? An overload at work? A death in the family? Did someone make you extremely angry? Or perhaps you were simply overwhelmed with how cluttered the house was? What happened? Writers are people, too. We are all affected by common day to day life situations. We all react differently to these situations. Sometimes a situation that would not bother one writer will throw another into a stalemate.

Step One:
Analyze your current position and identify key situations affecting your productivity.

Many writers write because theyíve discovered they express themselves best on paper. Itís as innate as breathing. With that in mind it makes sense that you can use writing to help you analyze these types of issues to keep your productivity in full swing. Letís say youíve been in a writing slump for over three months. You analyze the issue and discover you feel overwhelmed because the house is cluttered. For some people, a cluttered environment can be distracting. If youíre writing fiction, perhaps one of your characters is experiencing a similar situation where she feels overwhelmed. Maybe not the same exact situation, but something similar.

Step Two:
Sit down and take all of your emotions about feeling overwhelmed and transfer them to that character.

ďLisa stepped into the house and kicked off her shoes. She groaned. The house was a mess. Books and magazines stood heaped on the table, and two months of junk mail and bills littered the kitchen counter. Boxes of old car stereos lined the hallway leading to the bedroom. Dave could have at least lifted a finger and done something. She knew heíd give her the same tired excuse. He was job hunting and didnít have time to worry about the house. Heíd get the stereos out of the house when he had time. She could feel the anger swell inside her...Ē

Okay, so itís not perfect, but you can always go back and edit. Chances are, youíll continue writing that scene because it will fuel the creative fire, and maybe lead your story in a new direction.

Or...
If you write non-fiction, write a personal essay about your experience with being overwhelmed. Then pretend that you are giving advice to a friend (yourself) on how to deal with the situation. We tend to be more logical about our own circumstances if we can step outside our situation, and look at it from an entirely new perspective. Generally, youíll end up giving yourself some wonderful advice, not to mention that the personal essay could eventually evolve into an article idea. You may find you come up with a new way for busy people to keep their houses uncluttered. Perhaps youíll feel inspired to do some research on organization techniques. If anything youíll know that you need to get organized if you want to be able to un-clog your writing mind.
 
Thatís all there is to it. In step one you identified the problem. Write the problem down. Make a list of problems if there is more than one.  In step two you simply organized the problem on paper, and got your feelings out. Now you have a guide that tells you what is wrong, how youíre dealing with it, and may contain possible solutions to dealing with the situation more effectively.

Youíre telling me to journal? In a different way, yes. You can literally write yourself into getting the house cleaned, dealing with loss,  getting over anger, and so on. If anything, youíll have a better understanding of how you react to lifeís overwhelming situations. More importantly, you may end up with new novel chapters, or some article ideas. In any case, youíre writing. Now you need to make it a habit. I come home every day and write a list of everything bothering me. Nine times out of ten I end up working on my novel, or writing an article like this one.

So next time life is impeding on your desire and time to write, try writing about the things keeping you from writing. Youíll be happy you did.

___________________

S.J. Connolly-Reisner has sold one short story, numerous non-fiction articles, and one non-fiction book. She is currently working on a fiction novel, and two more non-fiction titles including one for writers. She writes mostly to inspire others.

 

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