The Writer, Writing Process

The Fickle Mind of a Writer

Sometimes when we are trying very hard to complete a project, our minds start wandering.  I had that issue while Reverie was coming to a close, I already knew how the book was going to end.  I found myself thinking of new stories and other projects to start, when I hadn’t even completed what I was working on.  I see others stating the same issues; they are hard a work on a book or story, then this new idea comes barging in demanding  attention.  What a fickle mind we possess!

Here it is towards the middle of February and I have barely written anything on Dissonance.  I was hoping to have the first draft finished this month, but as long as my progress continues as it has, I will not reach that goal.  Instead of writing on my book, I have beta reading, making Google+ community comments, stalking twitter;  I even started a new blog on finding happiness (Happy Ambition).

It seems the more I force myself to focus on the task at hand (writing Dissonance) the more my mind wanders.  I have been doing the same thing with this particular post.  I just took a fifteen minute break and check in on my social media.  I have a block, though it’s not a writer’s block per se, but more of a mental block towards my own deadlines.

DSC00314It seems every time I attempt to make myself accountable, by making a to-do list, or a deadline.  I walk away from what ever is on that list.  After my deadline has past and the tension is gone, I to back to working leisurely on my project again.  This time when confronted with this fickle mind I decided to find the root cause, instead of ignoring it and waiting for my motivation to return.

Yesterday I bought an e-book by Cathy Yardley called Write Every Day, claiming to help find those pesky obstacles we find for not writing.  I read the intro, but haven’t really gotten into the meat of my issues.  I thought I would read more on the book today.  I figured anything I could discover about what keeps me from writing would be helpful.

This morning I woke up all refreshed, having taken the day off, ready to write.  I sat down with my Word document open, except no words came.  I thought perhaps it would be better to open a new document to write out the scenes that are playing in my head.  I created a new OneNote tab for the individual scenes I planned on writing.   I still couldn’t find the motivation to write what was already in my head.

Since staring at the blank screen wasn’t getting me any closer to writing Photos Oct 08 to Aug 09 531 (2)down some passages, I decided to read the daily meditation from the book on my end table The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.  I read the second inspiration and the mediation that follows.  The passage was about a man who was determined to paint his living room.  He went out and bought all the supplies he needed.  He stirred the paint outside and as he was attempting to go back into his home he struggled with carrying everything at once while opening.  He stated he was too stubborn to put anything down, to open the door easily.  As he opened the door he lost his footing and dumped paint all over himself and the ground.

The meditation that followed the passage was thinking about a threshold in your life be it family, work, a story you want to tell, or wanting greater things in life.  Focus inwardly to see all the things you are holding on to.  Put them down one by one and open the door.  Pick up only what you need to carry with you and proceed through.

I spent some time thinking over what was stopping me from writing, it isn’t lack of ideas or even time.  As I laid on the love seat with my eyes closed and the light coming in from the curtains and thought.  I envisioned myself walking up to a door to my writing.  I look at what I am carrying and notice I feel weighted down.  I start listing off what is keeping me from wanting to write.  I realized I am carrying around a lot of pointless feelings of fear.  I fear failing at my goals, such a crippling fear that it can even keep me from attempting them.  I also wonder what if my story isn’t accepted or isn’t good.  There are tons of those thoughts floating around in my head.  During my meditation I visual placing each one of those thoughts down, so I can walk through that door to my writing my book unburdened.

I need to focus on writing my book, before I can focus and overcome the what ifs of the finish product.  Do you know what causes your mind to wander from project to project?  Is it fear?


6 thoughts on “The Fickle Mind of a Writer”

  1. What a lovely meditation exercise, Amanda. I can relate to your situation and I think part of being a writer is to figure out what method of working helps you to be the most productive – which is usually through trial and error. But you seemed to have cracked it!


  2. I think fear has a lot to do with it. Sometimes, the gap between where I’m at and where I want to be feels overwhelming; enough to discourage me from even trying. Visualising each ‘desire’ as things I can only pick up one at time is a great way of dealing with this.

    Thanks Amanda 🙂


  3. I’ve started my very first writing project, well kind of anyway. I’ve had fault starts in the past. This time definitely feels different. Right now I feel a little stuck but I know exactly why. This first draft is terrible, absolutely the pits. I want to start over but I know that’s the wrong thing to do. The right thing — keep on chugging along and worry about the rewrite later. Yes, I know something about what you’re going through.


    1. I personally don’t think its a terrible thing to start over. I am one of those edit as I go. if I am driven to edit, I edit. If I feel like writing, I write. I let my moods drive my progress.


  4. I think the mind will always wander, but we only tend to notice it when we don’t want it to. It’s find to daydream on the bus, but not when we are trying to get anything done.
    Fear of failing is just that, fear. I used to work with military personnel and they have this great saying: What is the worst that can happen?’ Once that has been identified they carry on with the task at hand. Sometime we just have to get all practical about it. And remember: Done is better than Perfect. Once I lowered the bar my writing became a lot better. Go figure.


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