• John Lim

MF 232 : Moving forward past writer’s block

Updated: Apr 14

On this episode, I share how I move forward past writer’s block. More at www.bemovingforward.com.

Listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above. Moving Forward is also available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, iHeartRadio, and Spotify.

Part 1: Checking in with myself

This past weekend, I did a check-in with myself, a practice I’ve started doing recently. In particular, I did a check-in on the podcast, how it’s going, whether I’m still enjoying it and the new format for this year. I asked myself a basic question: do you still enjoy doing this and why? I believe it’s important to ask this simple question from time to time when it comes your your endeavors. Thinking back, it’s hard to believe I’m 232 episodes in; having started in 2015. The podcast looks a lot different from its inception. The first 200 episodes was about learning and sharing from extraordinary guests. This season, I’ve turned the podcast into a shorter, more intimate show; focusing on my journey. It’s now more of an audio journal.

Do I still enjoy doing this yes? Yes, for me, this podcast is a way for me to express my thoughts, reflect on my journey, and share lessons, tactics and strategies on various projects such as Poshmark or writing a book. The other side of this is helping those of you who may be thinking about starting something new but aren’t sure where to begin or even aware of what’s possible. Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard from several people that are considering or starting to write their books. To me, that’s pretty exciting and is fuel to keep moving forward.

Part 2: Moving forward past writer’s block

Last Friday, I caught up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. About 8 months ago, we talked about book writing while I was in the middle of the umpteenth draft of Making Fake Star Trek. She decided to try out a couple of ideas and landed on one; going through the ideation process, mapping out and iterating all the different facets. When I caught up with her, I asked where she was with it and she said she stopped there and has back-burnered it since.

We got into a discussion on why it’s sometimes hard to push through and I thought this might be a good time to talk about writer’s block.

About a year ago, I was knee deep in writing. We had long completed our audio recordings, the outline, and were in the messy, sometimes haphazard process of writing out our second draft. On a Sunday, I had an hour or two free and got really excited; anticipating I would be able to write a lot and get further along.

After about 35 minutes, I had three badly written sentences, and couldn’t force out another word. I felt like I was trudging through molasses wearing concrete boots.

I got frustrated and the parade of doubt rained in my head. I started doubting whether we could finish this book, whether it was a good idea to co-write it, whether I had the right writing partner, whether talking out the first draft was a good idea. I got more and more frustrated and then pissed off.

That’s when I decided to stop. I turned everything off and took a break. I went outside, ran, swam, watched silly YouTube videos and a few days later, got back to it.

If you decide to write your first book, you will likely face one or more times like this, when you are hitting the proverbial brick wall. So, here are some things that may help you move forward past that writer’s block.

  1. Take a mini vacation: walk away from your manuscript and take a break. Do something to take your mind off it. Be careful. If you’re the “out of mind, out of sight” type, you may fall into the trap of back-burnering your book and never coming back to it. Treat it like a vacation with a hard return date that you put on your phone or calendar so you don’t lose momentum.

  2. Music: I find that classical music helps me write. I’m particular to Chopin, Mozart and Bach and you can find great playlists on Spotify but there are many other artists and genres. Find something that calms you yet inspires you to create.

  3. Write more: This sounds counter-intuitive but when I got stuck on Making Fake Star Trek, I moved on to other writing. Since I do a weekly podcast, I always have writing to do, whether it’s show notes or a LinkedIn article spun off from the podcast. Moving on to other writing is like exercising your muscles and helps loosen the knots. If you don’t have other writing in your life, now might be a good time to start a journal. That is what my podcast essential serves as these days.

Homework

If you’re hitting the wall of writer’s block, take a break, listen to some great music and write more to get back on track.

What I’m reading / read

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion (****): This is the sequel to The Rosie Project, which I covered a few weeks ago. In this follow-up (warning: spoilers), Don and Rosie are now married and living in New York City. Don is a professor of genetics at NYU and Rosie is pursuing her PhD. The book opens with a surprise: Rosie is pregnant and the story explores the next stage of their relationship as they deal with the uncertainties and doubts of becoming parents, Don’s continued social awkwardness, which lands him in misunderstandings, large and small, and Rosie’s doubts about being married to Don. I didn’t love it as much as the first book but overall found it entertaining and a worthy follow-up.

Scrivener

Scrivener (available for Mac, Win, IOS) is a book writing program that auto formats for self-publishing on Amazon’s KDP and other platforms. It’s a great tool with rich features that allow co-writers to collaborate through Dropbox. Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve but I’ve been a fan since 2017 and have talked to many authors who use it as their go-to. If you’re interested in Scrivener, you can use the coupon code MOVINGFORWARD to get 20% off your purchase (for Mac or Win). It’s a one-time license fee and available for Mac, Win, IOS.

Note: this section contains affiliate links and coupon codes for which the author may receive some compensation.

Books by John

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