The MJ Obstacle Files

This week, Mr. Huberman asks the question, “Can limitations and obstructions push us forward in our creative work?”


06 write
Snoopy needs a new beginning.

Poor Snoopy. He always begins his writing this way. It’s very limiting. I have often wondered why he didn’t start his stories with, “It was a bright and sunny day,” the cheerful promise of a positive story. He might have had a book deal with that opener.

In writing posts, one of my biggest concerns is to not be repetitively boring with words or contents or use of the same old writing genre. It’s no fun for the readers if I begin a story with the same opening line or keep repeating the same flowery, ten-cent words. Yet, there are times when I feel that’s exactly what I’m doing. It might be that I don’t feel fully educated on the nuances of writing and that speaks to my own limitations as a writer. I would love to learn more, enroll in a creative writing class…if only a job and friends and family and all of my other hobbies didn’t get in the way.

Similar to this one…

20160427_174255_1
So many hobbies, so little time.

Barnes and Noble can be a dangerous place. I’ve been wanting to buy one. No, I don’t know when I’m going to have time to color in a book. Perhaps at lunch time or while I’m on the treadmill at the gym or when I’m sitting on the couch, watching Star Trek. This is another self-inflicted issue with writing. I want to do everything, including but not limited to writing. I want to bike, to hang out with friends, to be involved at church, to visit mom, to pay attention to the cats, to color with pretty pencils. It all takes time and then I have to do laundry and make supper.

05 write
I would be mad that they’re pointing at me if not for the extreme handsomeness.

Yes, I know that I should be writing. Would you like to come to my place and encourage me?

04 write
Can I keep him? Please mom?

I need you to tell me this every time I write a post.

Too often, I doubt myself.

Encouragement is always good, darling.

I would guess this happens to every writer. We type, type, type along, only to click on the red “move to trash” link over there.

————————————–>

I’ve done it a few times, when trying to wrangle out a post that simply will not come together. It happened before I published a post on Sunday…spent two hours with photographs and a story that did not please me. It finally went to the trash and I started over with a new photograph, a quote and a poem that came easily and in less time.

Why the difference? Why does writing one post feel like dragging a 50 pound sack of sand through a mud puddle, while the next post writes with the ease of a La-Z-Boy’s motorized touch controls? Has anyone every answered that question? Does someone have a hypothesis?

I find that one of the more difficult areas of writing a story is the ending. It’s a great story that starts out with a bang. The words roll along, engaging the reader with quick wit, adventure and humor (or so I’d like to believe). Then bang…the rolling word train comes to a screeching, teeth-grinding halt. I will sit and stare at the computer screen for what seems like hours, reading and re-reading the story, trying to find a way to end it all. This process can be painful. It’s similar to talking to your best friend for hours and then not knowing how to end the conversation. Do I simply say goodbye, or do I give a drawn-out explanation of why I have to say goodbye?


03 write
His name is Bill…or maybe Tom.

So, it’s the fault of my imaginary friend? Really? I did not know that.

What do you have to say for yourself, imaginary friend?

*silence*

Well?

*continued silence*

Okay, that’s not funny. I’m trying to get to the point here and end this post about obstructions to writing. I could use a little help.

*mumbles a few opinionated words*

Thanks, that’s somewhat better. I’ll take your disjointed sentence under advisement.


Early on, when I began this blog, I wandered into the dangerous Barnes & Noble in search of books to help with writing. I found two. One is a “daily prompt” book that encourages stories based on specific words, sentences, themes or pictures. The other book, Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark, offered a refresher in grammar and punctuation, along with tips, tricks and techniques to help with a better blog post or book draft or letter to grandma. Utilizing both gave my writing knowledge and creativity a well-needed boost as a newbie blogger. I would definitely recommend such books if you have been feeling a bit stuck or wordless or don’t know where to start. They are all obstacles to your intended goal.

02 write
Sometimes the meme is true.

In the daily prompt book that I purchased at B&N, the author talked about “writer’s block” and offered the following piece of advice: When you don’t know what to write, write anyway. It simply means write something, anything. Regardless if the writing is unworthy of a published post or the first chapter of your next novel, keep going. No matter that it’s silly or stupid or would have the Grammar Police after you…keep writing. The author infers that sooner or later, the words start to flow again and you are back on the La-Z-Boy, pushing the “I’ve-got-this-one” button.

I try to remember that advice, but it doesn’t always work. If I have to write “it was a dark and stormy night” more than 10 times, I’m done. I don’t want to spend time going nowhere. Another obstacle or two for me: Impatience that I am unable to come up with a theme for the next post within ten minutes; and lack of determination. That last one is a big killer in my writing, just as it is in regular visits to the gym and on-going abstinence from sugar.

In summation, these are the obstacles I face when writing a post for this blog: Time, repetitiveness, la-z-ness, writer’s block, impatience, lack of determination and imaginary friends, and no handsome men to point their fingers at me. Tough obstacles, for sure. In the end, though, I love being here and I love to write. It’s what allows me to toss the obstacles aside from time to time and keep going.

What about you, my fellow blogging peeps? What are your obstacles to writing? What keeps you from starting? From continuing? From finishing a post?

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39 responses to The MJ Obstacle Files

  1. loisajay says:

    There has got to be a Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” meme for this. Yes, definitely Ryan Gosling…..

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Excellent choice! I need a meme for Tom Mison…the actor who plays Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow. He could point at me any day 😉

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Oh yeah…something titled “He’s English and he’s hot!” The subtitle would be, “I don’t care I’m old enough to be his mum.”

  2. joey says:

    Oh for cryin out loud, didja write this for me?!? Yes, oh my word, yes.
    Sometimes, I wow myself that I’ve been out of work for most of the last 16 years. So let’s say, 12 years, no workee. And I’ll be judging myself “You couldn’t manage to finish ONE novel in 12 years? REALLY!?!” Then I have to stop myself and recount what I HAVE done, or else I’d be depressed about it.
    I cannot figure out why sometimes the words flow and why the words won’t come. I blame the artistic nature inside me, that inconsistent person who has too many irons in the fire. Is there anything better than when writers feel like they are channeling words?!? There is nothing better. It’s spiritually fulfilling. Unbeatable to me. But then, why then? Why not all the time? Take a walk, do the dishes, brush the cat, still no. Why not?
    I’m not moody when it comes to personality and disposition, but I’m moody about artistic endeavors. Can’t get the words to flow? Paint, garden, color, sew, cook, bake. But I get just as moody and resentful about all of that at times as well.
    Do you know how long it takes to color one beautiful page in the adult coloring books? An hour. A whole hour!
    I need to live to be 110 or I’ll never finish a novel, never perfect pastry, never finish my postage stamp quilt.
    Don’t even get me started on maintaining relationships.
    Never enough time, never enough progress, never satisfied.

    Anyway, I love this post. Thank you.

    • joannesisco says:

      You can finish a page in an adult colouring book in an hour?!!! Good grief – yet one more thing I’m really slow at doing …

      • joey says:

        Thanks for the comic relief, Joanne! LOL! Yes, I do. But I’ve ‘arted’ all my life, without pause, too.

      • joannesisco says:

        I can spend 5 minutes just deciding what coloured pencil to use next.

        In my defense, I have a LOT of coloured pencils 🙂

      • joey says:

        OH! Well there you have it, I pick out the colors before I start. 🙂

      • bikerchick57 says:

        I have to tell you both that when I was checking this book out, I realized that I don’t have a pencil sharpener. So, I guess that means a trip to Wal-Mart…

      • joey says:

        Just as well. While you’re there, you should pick up a lot of other colors anyway 😉

      • joannesisco says:

        hmmm – I feel a new approach coming on for the next page of my colouring book 🙂

      • joey says:

        I hope it works out for you. You should show us your pages! 🙂

      • bikerchick57 says:

        I am learning so much about coloring in a coloring book, but I have a critical question: “Do I have to color inside the lines or can I be creative?”

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Awesome. I’m going to color like a four-year old until my perfectionistic tendencies take over.

      • joannesisco says:

        … or try colouring with your opposite hand.
        I have a different colouring book for my left handed colouring.
        … obviously I still have some obsessive tendencies to iron out :/

      • bikerchick57 says:

        I had all I could do not to buy the Dr. Who coloring book and a set of blue pencils. I could see this becoming an obsession once I get started.

      • bikerchick57 says:

        I’ll have to see where I fall in this area. It could take a month for me to even open the book, Joanne, so you may not be as slow as you think.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Joey, you crack me up. But I’m also very concerned about how long it will take me to fill up the coloring book. It may be a lifetime.
      It takes me a year to read a book, let alone write one. I don’t even consider the latter a possibility.
      It’s frustrating when the words don’t come and no amount of petting the cat helps. I used to have the same problem when I was engrossed in scrap booking. Sometimes a page would come together in 15 minutes. Sometimes it would take two days. It could be a symptom of artistic perfectionism…I have to get this right or it will not be right! Ugh!
      I don’t want to talk about maintaining relationships. I am behind on calling three good friends. My bad.
      Thank you and you’re welcome.

  3. joannesisco says:

    I took a creative writing class a few years ago when my blog was just an infant. That’s when I truly came to the realization that I had zero talent. Nada.
    … but it didn’t stop me.

    I rarely have writer’s block. I enjoy writing, but like you, I simply have too many other things I’d rather to be doing.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Zero talent? No way, you do a fine job with writing. I enjoy very much what you have to say and the photos from your travels. Keep going, you’re awesome.

      • joannesisco says:

        hmmm – that’s not what I took away from writing class.
        I thank you for your compliment, but I don’t have the pithy creativity of you or Miss MOSY 🙂

        I called it quits at the letter *W*. I’m ok with having finished 23 of the 26 letters 🙂

      • bikerchick57 says:

        I wondered why I didn’t see an X post this morning. I could have snuck a photo of Xenia, Ohio, to you and you could have pretended you were there. 😉

  4. Ally Bean says:

    In my experience, a lot of writing is about learning to give up. And go for a walk or have a good stiff drink. However, thanks to graduate school I can power through and write something if I have to. But I really prefer to allow myself to fail, then try again later when I’m in a different frame of mind.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Have a stiff drink, huh? I might have to stay away from that one. It not only loosens me up, but tends to make me sleepy. There would be no writing after that 😉

      I really thinking failing, then trying again is the best way to handle it. The failed post gives the successful post more meaning.

  5. I would write a post in response to the prompt about being blocked in your writing but I’m blocked in my writing. [eyeroll]

    I am in constant awe of your prolificacy (I just made that up), your creativity, your wit and your range. This post was very educational. Although I kind of lost the thread around about the middle when Loki and the Avengers came onto the scene. Sorry, what were you saying?

    Actually, I write the most amazing posts in my head in the car. Then I sit down at the laptop and POOF! it vanishes like something out of The Amazing Flabbinaci’s Magical Disappearing Act.

    I was going to write a post today about Delayed Gratification but I think I’ll write it tomorrow.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Delayed gratification? It might be better to wait until Christmas 2017. By that time, you would have plenty of opportunities to drive around town to prepare a post.

      I, too, have thought of astounding topics and stories for a post in the car, at work, at 4:00 am…but totally lost it by the time I sat down at the computer. The brain, alas, is sometimes a sieve.

      • I actually wrote it. I just posted it. I think that was your fault. Probably a good thing. I’m not sure. I’ll let you know after the Likes and Comments do or don’t come rolling in.

      • bikerchick57 says:

        I’ll read it later or tomorrow or next week. First, I have to go back to bed and sleep another hour or two…

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Not too early if I’m going to work. I have the day off. Only got up to feed the furry children. They are sooooo needy.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Oh, and thanks for your kind comments about my abilities and for a new word-of-the-day. I’m going to use it like it is real.

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