Writer Problems: Analysis Paralysis

Writing exists in different parts of my mind—the forefront or the back—and, every so often it drives me out of it. A good number of writers I know have said something similar in conversation. One of my biggest struggles is the “stuck place” that goes along with over-thinking everything: plot or flow, content or structure, word choices, word count, the number of adverbs! (Kidding about that last one.)

And I’m brought back to one consistent truth in the writer life: writers write. Sure, they read and research and doodle sometimes, too, but they invest time in writing. When the analysis overwhelms the process, paralysis sets in. I don’t really believe this is the same thing as writer’s block. Analysis paralysis is something a little different. While the block is a dry inkwell, the paralysis feels something like the inkwell vacillating between explosion and implosion. Suddenly, the words just won’t flow because my mind just won’t play nicely with whatever is on the page or trying to get there.

I have a love-hate thing with the fact that writing is a mental thing. The beauty is that writing allows the pictures, stories, or ideas floating in my head to be shared with people anywhere and any time. The agony is that my mind can have so many incomplete thoughts floating around, and I somehow feel each one should be examined for validity before it hits the page. (This is ridiculous!) What’s a writer to do when the analysis breaks the beautiful process?

Here are three ideas that may help you get past the paralysis in your process:

  1. Take a walk and have a little talk with yourself. A change of scenery may be helpful. You just may have to give yourself permission to write badly or explore an incomplete thought’s development without evaluation. Agree to just write without judgment when you sit down again, if you can.
  2. Try writing from stream of consciousness as an exercise on a regular basis. Timed free-writes can be helpful with practice. You’ll often find you can get more words on the page when you have a specific topic or project to work on when you’ve practiced writing whatever comes to mind. You might also be interested in something like the “Five-Minute Friday” Link Up. Each week a very large group of writers will tackle a five-minute write on a single word topic. Give that a shot!
  3. Try the 10,000-foot view if you have to. You can’t land in “Pantser Land” with writers who just discover the plot (twists and all)? Back out of the project with an open mind and try outlining several different options for your work. Choose the one you like best, or ask someone to help you choose. I like to ask friends for ideas on plot or content when it’s possible or they are willing.

I won’t overwhelm you with a ton of ideas, but there’s at least three you might try. I know I sometimes just need encouragement to push forward in a project, so my “bonus idea” is—find another writer to chat with. See if you can talk shop (or not), if you need it.

Keep on keepin’ on, writer tribe!

~J

Five Minute Friday :: Favorite

I’m a day late and (as usual) a dollar short.  😉

Last Friday’s Five-Minute Friday challenge was Favorite. I’m still taking the challenge, though it just may be too late to be connected with the wonderful collection that was posted on time.


I can’t start writing about this topic without hearing a song in my head. You probably know the one:

“Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes…”

We all have favorite things, don’t we? I’m not entirely defined by my favorite things, but I am, admittedly, shaped by them. What we love partially determines how we spend our resources (time, money, mental energies, physical efforts), doesn’t it? Getting to know me means being introduced to a variety of experiences. I find my interests are pretty eclectic. But, to boil it all down to a single favorite? (I mean, isn’t that the point of a “favorite” thing? It’s the singular interest, focus, or like that eclipses the rest.)

Well, if I have a favorite thing, then I choose to focus on a relationship. The relationship that is critical to me, the air I breathe if I were to describe it accurately, is my relationship to God. There is no other connection to any living, breathing being or inanimate object that can even compare. It’s simple.

My God, as I know him through Scripture, has made every possible sacrifice for me…even to death on a cross. Who else would give up everything for me? On a good day, someone may choose to sacrifice a few bucks or a few minutes. Someone may choose to call me their favorite person because of a personal connection. Truth is: no one (apart from my husband, I imagine) would die for me. And they don’t have to.

He is my favorite because—I am his favorite! You all can say the same. You’re his favorite, too.


Thanks for reading along!

~jennifer

Five-Minute Friday: Dream

Have you ever heard of Five-Minute Friday? #fmfparty? I stumbled upon a fun group of ladies tonight in my Twitter feed. It was impossible not to notice them all. To be honest, I thought #fmfparty might actually mean “Fill My Feed.” They set me straight.

So, right out of the gate, I start with my first writing prompt. My timer is set. Five minutes, and here we go!


 

It all started in an old house in the living room. A group of ladies all met with one purpose in mind: to dream. The group was fantastically creative. They made the most interesting bunch. Some were bloggers, book authors, poets, song writers—even non-writers. If I could count the number of times someone said, “I don’t consider myself a writer…”

But, I am a writer. Yes, I edit more often than I have the pleasure of writing sometimes. Truly, I’m a writer at heart. One day someone posed the simple question to me: Do you like to edit more than write? She knew I had a habit of filling my time with things that help me avoid the thing I want most: to write.

My excuse was simply that I had absolutely no time. I had no energy. The real truth was that I was more afraid of my story than anything. If I wrote that….

In a quiet, thin space something happened that changed everything. An idea, a little seed started to germinate. I started to consider the bigger “what if…”

I started to dream!


*Ding!*

Have you ever tried a five-minute prompt like this one? If you want to give it a try or read the other writers’ pieces, head over to Kate’s place!

Thanks for reading!

~jennifer