Friday, July 1, 2011

Defeating the enemy/Enemy

The cursor blinks…blinks…blinks and still nothing.

The hours tick by and you’ve written two sentences. That’s progress, give yourself a reward and grab that bag of chocolate M & M’s. You finish a page and take a break to check your email, then the phone rings, it’s one of the kids so you answer. Now its lunch time and you make something to eat and go back to your chair to see the blinking cursor again. Ever have one of those days? Or maybe longer when procrastination sets in and the harder you push the further back those words regress?

Through the years I have done pretty well getting my pages done and meet my goal and then some, but lately the Enemy has kept me from accomplishing anything near what I usually do. The present story I’m working on just refuses to cooperate, leading me to one dead-end after another. But the enemy is also me, which Satan lavishes in. He knows what each one of our temptations, fears and the biggest distractions are and uses them to the fullest, bringing out self-defeat.

Because we work in a solitary profession there is no one to keep us on task, we have to be our own self motivators. This is a good/bad thing. We have the luxury of flexibility which is great when your teenagers goes through graduation and thirty relatives come visit for a week, or you finally plan that trip you’ve been meaning to take, or if someone is ill you’re there to care for them, but the flip side is we have to be diligent schedulers so we make that looming deadline. Having a contract doesn’t keep those distractions from creeping up, for many authors the pressure makes it worse. Knowing we’re not alone can ease some of the stress that Satan so cleverly plants into our subconscious.

So what disrupts you? Whatever it is be aware so you know how to face it the next time it pops into your head. I’m not big on TV but love a good movie and want to get out of the house after writing most of the day. If a friend calls and wants to go have lunch or take a walk on a nice day I have a hard time saying no to either. One thing I miss since I’ve started writing is reading. I use to finish a book at a rapid pace but now feel the need to write more than read. I have to be careful about what I can do in good conscious and what the evil one is tempting me to do. The line becomes very thin at times.

Then there’s this little voice in my head that tells me ‘this scene is terrible’ or ‘you’re never going to get this story put together’ and so many more little demons that sit on my shoulder and cut me down. Those are the times I rely on critique partners and readers to help me separate what’s going on in my brain and what the reality of it really is. If I let those negative thoughts sink in it will lead to failure so it’s imperative to have writers groups, good editors and my faith to set me straight.

Some of the tricks authors say they do to stay on task is to set writing goals that allow for flexibility but hold you accountable. Stay in the chair, no matter what the distraction, cling to your writing throne and dictate to your subjects from there. Nothing is permanent, just write, you can fix, fudge and completely rewrite the scene but just going through the process can help the juices begin to flow. Taking advantage of extra time is something I have a hard time with but have learned to do, and some of my best writing has come from those unexpected bits of time. I try to picture getting through the story and writing The End. Sometimes when I’ve done this I think of a good ending that changes the way I write the story.

The most important part is during my devotional time. The days I dive in and just start writing are often the times when I stop halfway through the day wondering what to write next. When I stop and ask God for the words and to keep Satan at bay I feel better even if my writing isn’t better. I’ve learned to know that when I get stuck there’s a reason and that He’ll pull me out when I’ve grasped what he has in store for me to write.

Questions: What tricks do you do to keep yourself from being distracted?
How do you deal with writer’s block?


Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

Oh, I can relate! There are times I am positively stymied, just as you have so aptly described. Prayer has worked wonders. When I begin a project I ask for 4-5 people to pray me through it. My warriors always come through for me. :-)

Excellent post!

Bruce Hennigan said...

I was thinking about this just last night. I'm ramping up my social media "marketing" and approving back book cover and getting all excited about my book release in October. And then, it hit me. I had not talked to God lately. I had not steeped myself in the Word. I was walking out onto that plank where everyone can see ME and not remembering for whom I write!
For me, it's remembering why I sit in front of the computer and why I write; that I am privileged to be invited by the God of the universe to participate in constructing a tiny part of his Story for those around me to see and read. When I stop and think on this, humility washes over me. Who am I to be writing such things? Who am I to think someone will read my words? It is in those moments I reach out for the strength only God can give us and I put both hands on the keyboard and I write!

Caroline said...

Great post, Beth. One thing I do, other than pray, is to work on more than one project at a time. Of course if a certain project has a deadline, this probably wouldn't work. But otherwise, if I reach a mind block, I pick up the second one and write away. By the time I need a break on it, I can go back to the first. I work well w/that plan. :)


Beth Shriver said...

Oh I know, Andrea! Prayer warriors are a must! I don't know how writers get through the process without having that support. I can't imagine relying only on myself.

Bruce, isn't it strange how we forget who to thank for getting where we are in our writing careers, especially since we're Christian writers? I have to literally make myself stop and thank Him for the blessings he's given and make him first, not just when I can fit Him in.

I often stop and redirect my attention as well, Caroline. I keep it writing related but even stopping and taking the time to write a this blog a couple times a month helps when I get back to my story and try to take my own advice:)

Bruce Hennigan said...


Thanks for your kind words. My biggest fear is that I will find myself working diligently on a "good" idea to the detriment of the "God" idea I should be working on. For weeks I was in the doldrums way back in 1999 after finishing "Conquering Depression". I had so many novels in various stages of development and I took them and held them up to God and said, "Hey, God, I will finish one of these novels and you are going to bless it." And God was silent. And the novels lay dormant and the computer screen was blank! I came to the realization that perhaps the depression book was the only book I would ever write and get published. And if so, I had to accept that! Maybe that was God's will. One book for the rest of my life! I was terrified the night of my deadline, but I prayed that God would show me what I was to do and if this one book was it, to give me the peace to live with it. I woke up at 4 AM the next morning with "The 13th Demon", a brand new work in my head and I wrote for 30 straight days and finished the novel. God had plans for me, just different from my plans. I had good ideas. He had "God" ideas. Sometimes, for me, the doldrums is turning away from God's will and finding myself empty and wandering pointlessly. And, the enemy does indeed celebrate those moments!

Beth Shriver said...

I appreciate your honestly in sharing your struggle, Bruce. Don't you wonder what God could do with us if we'de stop long enough to REALLY listen? He's there for us, just as you expalined, we just aren't patient enough to wait for Him to direct our path, going along in circles, aimlessly until we get too frustrated or worn out to continue. We are slow to listen.

Jan said...

Hi, Beth,
I agree with the keeping pushing through the uninspired times, especially as I get older and feel the pressure to finally get somewhere with my writing. There is no perfect time to write, and when there is, the distractions still come. So since I started writing even when I feel completely unable to, at least I've gotten something down, probably that gets the general idea on paper, and find I can fix it later, and maybe it isn't even all that bad. Thanks for giving us permsission to admit our struggles.

Beth Shriver said...

Jan, I think that's key, to just get something down. And like you said it's hard to find the perfect time. We can't force it and we can't let it go too long or we lose the story. It's a fine balance. Thanks for commenting!

Jillian Kent said...

Beth, you asked? "So what disrupts you?"
I had to laugh. I thought I had this weekend all worked out. I wrote for about 5 hours yesterday afternoon away from the house. I should say I revised for about 5 hours.

I got home and my mom wasn't well so I took her to the ER where we spent the next 8 hours. All is fine but it was a long night. Then I slept till early afternoon.

To make the longer story short I haven't been able to accomplish much today. I have to get my revisions in August 1st and I return to my day job July 18th.

So I've got to pull my act together and that means I better spend some quality time with God and in prayer because I'm off course. One thing that helps me is to meditate on my life verse 2 Timothy 1:7.

I've enjoyed reading this post, Beth. I needed to read this post. I've enjoyed reading the comments too. Great thoughts everyone.

Beth Shriver said...

Jill, your example of how our writing time gets left on the wayside is so common for all of us. You think you have your day planned out and then everything falls apart. But we learn, through experience, how to pull it all together again. I'm going to read the verse you mentioned. Thanks for sharing:)