This is part of a series on how to study fiction, mainly directed at writers who have read all the beginning writing books and are like, “What now?!?”  The rest of the series is here.

Techniques to help handle productivity/speed issues:

  • Discovering and resolving fear issues around writing (I’m not good enough, I’m taking time for myself when I have too many other responsibilities, etc.).
  • Discovering what triggers writing techique-based distractions and using focused study to progressively resolve them.
  • Discovering when a story is “finished.”
  • Controlling your physical environment.

It’s important to probe into any emotional issues surrounding writing.  Finding a practical balance is never easy, but if you don’t start making a space for your creativity, you’ll suffer.  You’ve made it this far; by definition, you’re someone who needs to express themselves creatively, even if you don’t get off your ass and do it.

Other sources of “writer’s block” come from technical problems–the principles of writing at an intermediate and higher level.  The rest of the series will help start breaking those technical problems so you can start studying whatever problem is the priority of the moment.  Tackling one writing problem at a time will help make the process seem less overwhelming.  I hope.  Once I figured out that there were a lot of things to master, then tackling a couple of key elements helped me write a lot faster.

Finding out when a story is “finished” is an act of faith at every level of writing.  People often rely on beta readers, editors, and other “gatekeepers” to tell them whether a story is done or is good enough.  However, most “gatekeepers” aren’t professional, master-level writers, and are mostly just telling you whether they, personally, liked the story or not.  Learning writing techniques at an intermediate level will tell you whether your story is finished or not.

Your physical environment when you write has to allow you to write for your ideal amount of time without anticipatible distractions.  My idea amount of time is ten minutes, a short break, repeat for about three hours; yours might be “until this novel is done, I mean, no sleep or anything.”

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