writing_ie-logo

  • www.inkwellwriters.ie
gerry-chaney-blogs-header

Guest Blogs

Overcoming Writing Obstacles

w-ie-small
Article by ERMurray © 4 October 2017.
Posted in Guest Blogs ().

Ever feel like you’ve hit a wall with your latest manuscript? Well, take a deep breath and relax – because this happens to every writer at some point. And when it does happen, you have two choices – keep going or give up. Both can be viable options, but most of the time, it’s simply part of the creative process and you need to keep going to get the results you’re looking for.

It might be that the idea or voice of your story really doesn’t work, but in general, it usually means that you need more time, more drafts, and more thinking space. There are obstacles in your way, but you can usually overcome them, with some effort and patience and a dollop of courage.

My fourth book, The Book of Revenge, was the toughest yet to write. Perhaps it was because it was the final book of a trilogy? Or perhaps it was because I’d been living with these characters for a long time? Or perhaps it was knowing there were readers really wanting this book and that it had to be even better than the last.

Whatever the reason, I had a commitment to this book and I wanted it to be the best it could be, so I ploughed on. It wasn’t easy, but finally reaching the finish line was extremely satisfying.

So in case you find yourself in the same situation, here are some approaches that work for me…

Face your demons: this is my first approach. When something is challenging, or scary, or seemingly impossible, I like to tackle it head on. Otherwise it grows into a giant monster that follows you everywhere, taunting you. If you give the most difficult or scary tasks your best shot, at your best time of day, even tiny steps forward will help to relieve the pressure you’re under and move your story along.

Take more short breaks: I can often concentrate for hours at a time, but when I’m caught up in something extra challenging, I take a break every time my concentration naturally beaks. This could be every hour or 45 minutes, but with increased challenge comes increased pressure and so the usual long concentration periods don’t work as well. Lots of short breaks allow your brain to relax a little before the next bout – and allow creative thoughts to keep flowing.

Try something new: If you write organically to find your character and stories, try pausing to map out how far you’ve got and where you want to go. Stepping back to see the bigger picture might help you to spot issues with plot or pacing, renew your enthusiasm, or remind you of your initial aim and show you where things have veered off.

Move! I swear by long walks! I start every day with a long walk (two-hours or more) to get the blood flowing and to encourage my brain to let go of any concerns or worries. Likewise, when I hit a wall, or I feel my concentration or enthusiasm ebbing, I get up and move. It might be a shrug or a dance or a stretch, but I find movement creates a momentary distraction and helps fresh thoughts to come flooding in.

If all else fails: I’m not an advocate of giving up, but if you have truly tried everything else and the words are still not coming, or if you’re endangering the quality of your manuscript, then put your work in progress aside. Don’t stop writing, but work on something else and go back to your tricky manuscript the next day.

Good luck with your work in progress – happy writing!


Follow Elizabeth online, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Elizabeth Rose Murray lives in West Cork where she writes, fishes, and grows her own vegetables. Her first book for young adults Caramel Hearts (Alma Books) was published June 2016. Her debut novel for children aged 10-12, The Book of Learning - Nine Lives Trilogy 1 (Mercier Press) was chosen as the 2016 Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Citywide Read for Children and the follow-up The Book of Shadows - Nine Lives Trilogy 2 was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Book Awards. The final installment The Book of Revenge will be published in February 2018.

Elizabeth has poetry and short fiction published in journals across the UK and Ireland - including Ogham Stone, Southword, South Circular, Esc and 3am - and has been shortlisted in various competitions including TV3AM Short Story, Francis MacManus, and Aesthetica Creative Works. She has also performed in Ciudades Paralelas: Station - a live writing installation.

Hoping to encourage new writers, Elizabeth provides manuscript reports and online writing courses through Inkwell Writers and Big Smoke Writing Factory. She is a regular at literary festivals, and offers adult workshops on writing for children and young adults, as well as multiple events and workshops for children and teens.

You can connect with Elizabeth on Twitter @ERMurray, Facebook www.facebook.com/ERMurray.Author or her blog www.ermurray.com

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: