Category Archives: Writers Block

What’s the Point? Keeping Motivation ALIVE

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

This morning I decided to watch a TEDx talk whilst eating breakfast. I have spent a couple of weeks in a dip and am lacking motivation and belief. In under three years I am already uttering those vile, monstrous, self-destructive words, ‘what’s the point?’ Not only has the question entered my mind, it has been playing on a slow loop and worse still I have started to take it as fact that the answer is – ‘there isn’t any.’ writing block

All of this is completely ridiculous, however, in the short time I have been back in my writing life I have discovered not only do all writers feel this way from time to time but even really famous authors and successful writers fall prey to these self-sabotaging words.

The point is;

your unique voice, out there for people to read.

this is your chosen career.

you have to stay highly motivated as you have no boss to answer to and some days probably don’t even get dressed before lunchtime (if at all).

you write, but no-one writes 24/7.

this was a choice, still is, but don’t let one bad week/month/year dissuade you.

z st chads barry patterson

So here I am in the doldrums (despite several ongoing exciting projects), this lingering feeling has been unsettling me for over two weeks. Today, I thought this is ridiculous, I need to spur myself on.

Hence the breakfast with a side order of TEDx. breakfast-waffles

It was the 2012 Olympics which reignited my ambition to become a writer. I am basically taking 4 years at a time as an over-arching period as a writer and allowing myself four Olympics to get to GOLD. I am hoping in the light of my writing life after 3 years that it won’t take the whole 16 years to achieve my ambition.

The Universe Steps In

You know how the universe conspires in putting exactly what you need at that given moment in front of you – well the talk suggested something about the Olympians which I vaguely remembered hearing before, indeed a quick search gave me the data and a BBC report on the medal response.

The concept is that Bronze medal winners feel better than Silver medal holders.

Gold is great – you won – on top of the world.

Bronze is – yippee I was placed, I have a medal, so close. 

Silver is – shucks I haven’t won.


Research has shown that silver medallists feel worse, on average, than bronze medallists. (Gold medallists, obviously, feel best of all.) The effect is written all over their faces, as psychologists led by Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University found out when they collected footage of the medallists at the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona. Gilovich’s team looked at images of medal winners either at the end of events – that is, when they had just discovered their medal position – or as they collected their medals on the podium. They then asked volunteers who were ignorant of the athlete’s medal position to rate their facial expressions. Sure enough, the volunteers rated bronze medallists as consistently and significantly happier than silver medallists, both immediately after competing, and on the podium.

By Tom Stafford

Copyright © 2015 BBC

Read the full article here


Just with this in mind (because I was obviously aiming for Gold and actually feeling bad that I hadn’t even made Silver and the people on the podium weren’t even in the race when I started), my mind shifted. I realised I need to appreciate what I do have – and I have pages of it in The Write Year to look back on.

I am learning and I think that’s what it’s all about. The writing process takes an incredibly long and frustrating time is a new lesson. It is an important one. I have learnt how the polishing is important, how not to jump the gun (sending work out too early with ragged edges). I will train harder and seek support. Being a part of a team is much more comfortable than the solitude of your garret where you are out on a limb.

Of course, ‘I am Bronze’ – is in itself a winning mindset – my Olympic year falls next year and I will see how much ground I have covered and how 2016 pans out, I am hoping it ends with a medal around my neck. (Just maybe not silver!)


So my best advice for an attack of the writing doldrums – is claw yourself back out, make a list of all your highest achievements, stick it somewhere you will see it everyday and keep up the good fight. Today may not have been yours – but who’s to say what tomorrow holds? You get a new chance daily, send your darlings out and keep smiling!

One day victory will be yours! Cue manical laughter.






24th – 25th October


For the 3rd year running AWF is hosting INKSPILL, a free online writing retreat. Come and join us and our Guest Writers for a weekend of writing and motivation.

There is NO SIGN UP, NO FEE.

Just read the posts, share links to your work, comment and LIKE the posts.

AWF offers this retreat to you for FREE, in return all we ask is you LIKE, reblog or share our blog posts.


We have several Guest Writers this year – to be announced soon!


Spread the word! INKSPILL


My Time in the Wilderness


Wasn’t really in wilderness at all, just poetless and writingless, so, yes… wilderness!

Mid-March I just stopped, completely unplanned and unintentional, muse seemed to have left the building and I was physically & mentally drained, all my energy was used up working the daytime and by the time it came to the evening, I was falling asleep an hour after getting home from work.

I decided to let it happen, rather than push on with my performance agenda. I was feeling sad about not writing, but even typing up previously penned poems seemed too much. At the time I wasn’t worried, knowing this time would pass.


There were 5 submission pieces I had scheduled to work on, three poetry nights (Mouth & Music, Howl & Speakeasy) that I missed and a Stanza meeting, due to an important family occassion (which weeks later led to a new poem being penned). All this went out the window and was swapped for work, sleep, real life mortgage hunting, meetings and TV.

I was activiated after 7 days by Mad Malvern Book Promotion events and working for WWM (Writing West Midlands) – who have sent incredibly exciting news this month. The following week I had another week off, missing Hit The Ode and some submission deadlines. I was performing again by the weekend in a charity event at Martineau Gardens ‘Nomad Variety’.

Followed by a celebration of WORLD BOOK DAY with two events/readings in Walsall.


The only reason I missed a 3rd week of events in March was to cover my transport costs to LONDON, which due to such a hellish journey (a breakdown on the hard shoulder on the outskirts of London resulted in a 3 hour delay, making a three hour journey take closer to seven hours, we were running late as it was) I am hoping to be reimbursed. imagesCAJBX1JQ

I missed Poetry Bites with Jacqui Rowe, particularly sad not to see Robert Harper’s (Barefiction) full set and missed Jayne Stanton too. The following night I missed Drummonds 42 with Andrew Owens. My Caldmore Community Gardens workshop was cancelled – having already turned work down, I treated myself to a much needed writing day and at least sent a backlog of poetry to David Calcutt for his Natural Histories website.

I also worked on a couple of new poems from notes in my writing journals, from previous workshops with Angela France and Jean Atkin.

On Friday I went to London for Hark Issue #4 Launch and reading – very exciting! Once I had slept all of Saturday in recovery of a 22hour day on 5 hours sleep, I found as if by magic, I had woken up with my poetry muse back! We have been celebrating every since.


Plot Block – 6 TIPS to Reboot Your Writing


photo_9658_landscape_large Planning events in your plot and knowing your characters inside out is not always enough to keep writing block at bay. You know how it is, you have been working hard, the novel has behaved, the draft is going well and then… you get stuck, your characters need to help you out.

These suggestions may get your pen moving/ fingers tapping again. I would use them as a free writing exercise, rather than committing to it being a scene in your story – but if it fits and helps you drive your plot forward these are broad enough ideas to work or at least spark a similar idea which suits your novel better.


Remember fear doesn’t exist and the worst that can happen is you throw another few hundred words in the bin.


Choose one  – write.

Someone knocks on the door

A text message beep

There’s a power cut

A sensor / alarm goes off



But be clear on what your character wants, what’s their drive? Aim?


Think about your main character, what do they want more than anything in the world?


Why can’t the character achieve this ambition? What stands in the way?

Can the other characters help? What are their goals?

These ideas should help you develop your story.


pencil paper freestock


Writer’s Block – Advice


A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend who was suffering from writer’s block, I was going to send an email full of advice and tips and then I thought – why not blog it.

inkspill just write

The best advice I have discovered in the past year and a half is to not blame the block on yourself – but rather the sticky keys of your laptop, by doing this you can kid your brain and get the ideas pumping again.

We all know what Writer’s Block feels like and we all suffer from the stalemate from time to time, including best selling authors, you are in good company. Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away from writing for a while, give yourself a day or two off from writing, or take a walk, get out of the house, you may discover a source of inspiration out in the real world.

Writer’s Block can leave you feeling lethargic so here are some ideas to try if you do not want to leave the house.

1) Try a writing exercise.

2) Think about some major life changes that you have experienced, what if they had turned out differently? Write the outcome.

3) Use favourite/ well known book characters and write them into different scenes.

4) Write your anxieties down, what is happening inside your creative/ writing mind.

5) Talk to other writers.

6) Try working on a different project. I tend to have 2 or 3 simultaneous projects timetabled at any one time, this prevents boredom and blocks, although in poetry writer’s block is slightly different and tends to centre around ideas.

7) Assess your writing space, perhaps change or tidy your environment to declutter your mind.

8) Think about why you write to begin with. (Or next time you are having a positive writing day write down some observations to read next time you are feeling empty!) Are you writing what you love? It can be really hard to finish projects otherwise.

writing block

Tangents and detours happen in writing, accept them.

Try to silence your inner critic – don’t let those gremlins tell you your writing is worthless.

Remember the power of re-writes, just work on getting your 1st draft out.

Just keep going.

Try to look at your manuscript from different angles.

Touch base with HOW writing makes you FEEL – why you are a writer to begin with.


Still Searching for Story – Tips on the ‘Wilderness’


imagesCANPZSQ2 It is a situation that all writers find themselves in at one time or another, even the professionals. I now have just over 3 weeks to produce my short story that I have spent the past fortnight ‘thinking about’. I have scribbled down pages of ideas and character notes and yet none of them spark enough interest for me, let alone a reader 5000 words in…

It is a frustrating time. That has to be accepted and then brushed off. If you get mixed up in all that pent up emotion it is unlikely a character will ever appear (unless you are after a psychotic killer!) and you will find your energy zapped beyond a place of creativity.

Real writers get stuck. So put that in your mind instead – you are a REAL writer and it will come. Don’t switch off from it or turn your back on the problem. (Burying your head in the sand never works and could leave you with a very dry mouth!)

So what can you do? Be PROACTIVE! Here’s what I have tried;

  • Stay with the ideas. ChicagoMarketingCompanyIdea Keep scribbling the notes when they come. Themes, plot ideas, characters, situations, feelings, settings, random descriptions.
  • Keep thinking. Many writers create whole stories in their heads first.
  • Take a walk. You never know what you might come across.

A woman in one of my writing classes this Spring, told us a tale of her and her husband taking a walk in a wood. They were passed by some man who appeared out of the trees (she described him in great detail). They decided to investigate further and came across a stash of drugs – for her it was a notebook dream and she scribbled it all down (hence her detailed memory) whilst her hubby hopped from one foot to the other, itching to leave the scene before the man came back…. which of course led his wife onto writing more and more possible plot events!

  • Keep reading. piles_of_books-red I have been devouring books recently, not necessarily in the genre I hope to write in (always best if you have an idea where you are heading) to read books that will inspire you or fill the gaps.
  • STOP WORRYING! It will come (and the worst that can happen if it doesn’t is you miss an opportunity) many competitions are annual so make a diary note and get working on a story for next year. When the pressure is off you will proper find your mind fills with abundant ideas. So take your foot off the metal/ gas and slow down a little, you are your own worst enemy for piling on the pressure.
  • De-stress. Take a soak in the tub or meditate. Step out of your writing skin for a while and before you know it, your muse will come running back to you!

and finally…

DON’T forget to boil the kettle before you make your coffee… you may laugh… but I swear I can’t be the only one!


planning and structure

narrative structure and the writing process


End of the Month Review – August 2013


The summer has basically been one long break from writing. After NaNoWriMo in July, the house move, finishing work late July and having friends to stay throughout July and August – not to mention unpacking, de cluttering, a birthday and attempting to sell property. As I have already confessed August had no working action plan – I kept dipping in to write a little but then didn’t stick to it!

untitled I am glad to announce that the final day enabled me to submit poetry to two online locations AND I have a very full and challenging SEPTEMBER action plan to follow. My muse (which has been lacking) is seeping its way back into me. (Thank goodness) inkspill keyboard

I have done a lot of reading this month, other than research and articles on writing, I read two novels is as many days this week (I was avoiding all the jobs I needed to do.) I have read 4 books this month and am halfway through my 5th, I must find time to upload my Goodreads profile. (Which looks like I haven’t read since March!) imagesCA8MSS7R

I worked on several projects that I am mid edit /re-write on, completed more research into markets and publishing opportunities. I wrote a morning journal in an attempt to keep writing through the block. I also attempted to keep up with writing challenges on other blogs for this reason also – that and they are fun! A fast way to learn how to… a new genre and meet more writers.

I also enrolled on a Stunt Writing course stunt-writing-final1-1 online and attempted to log a daily gratitude.

I celebrated a birthday imagesCA6ANW3Pgift

and more recently have completed job searches for this Autumn. I have secured an interview next week and signed up with several agencies.  imagesCAVZQJ1K

Today I managed (by the skin of my teeth) to make deadlines for poetry submissions. I have 6 poems under consideration for e-publishing anthologies. They were written in a rush though, we will wait and see.

I also found out about scriptwriting opportunities – I will look out for them next year because I didn’t have time to work on my ideas this time round. I also sent off for information about a Literature Festival and have booked my tickets for lots of events and one workshop (all to look forward to in October!)

And FINALLY I started marketing INKSPILL – the online writing retreat taking place here in the final weekend of October (25-27th), the programme is coming together and I hope to drum up lots of interest over the next month.

AWF Banner

The Return of my Muse, Almost! (Homeward Bound in an Airport Lounge Somewhere)



I have spent the best part of a week offline – something which started unintentionally and coincided with the Bank Holiday Weekend. Towards the end of which (yesterday) my thoughts turned to writing.

And I am happy  to announce the seeping joy of my muse slowly returningI speculate that she is in an airport lounge instead of home as I have managed research and found many possibilities for writing (some of which I am hoping to force out before the end of the month!) – however, I am still lacking in ideas.

I have read, read and read. Devouring two novels in as many days, I am still on the 3rd book of the Bank Holiday Weekend because I read all of the weekend papers yesterday and some articles and magazines too.

I have started a new notebookthe one we are supposed to carry with us all the time. And it is filling up with sepia ideas and snippets of experience.

I have HOPE inside my fingers that this week I will be able to tap something worthy out. I am going to post a schedule – to help me stay focussed and as it may be something you will find interesting or helpful.

I am going to reply to everyone who has posted and BIG apologies for not doing so sooner. As you can see from my schedule post time in Blogland will be sparse for the rest of the month as I concentrate on completing multiple writing projects ahead of deadline.


Happy Writing

Turn the Negatives into Positives – How to Look at Your Writing Block in a New Light



storm-clooud Yesterday I had a ponder about where I am at, eight months into my writing life. I was listening to the inner gremlins and believing what they said and was feeling very down about the lack of commitment and writing I have managed this August.

What we have to realise is failures are just set backs and they happen to every writer. We are unlikely to experience a writing life without rejection, we can change the way we respond to such things to keep our motivation high and to guarantee we don’t tread water or give up.

I spent Friday researching (my way of feeling better about not writing), I watched some TED talks and video clips of famous best selling authors talking about their craft. Many mentioned set backs. Something familiar to all of us.

Instead of allowing the inner gremlins to get a hold of me any further I concentrated on turning my thoughts around.

I am not writing this month, however I stepped back to January and mentally logged all the success and writing that wouldn’t even exist if I hadn’t woken up and fed my starving creative spirit to begin with.



Where there is bad there is always good, for every gremlin that calls out retorts there is a writing warrior to combat them. With thoughts alone I hushed them. (At this point I feel it necessary to point out I am not actually hearing voices, I refer to the thoughts we all have during writing or resting from writing. The monsters inside us that try to kybosh whatever project or dream we have set our heart on.)

  • Spend energy on writing instead of wallowing.
  • Make the change. Be the change. Own it.
  • Allow yourself time away from writing. Rest is important for creativity to thrive.
  • I can make it happen and I will. BELIEVE.
  • Give your overloaded mind a break.



I read many articles yesterday which seemed to answer the questions I was thinking, including a scientific article about how our brains work. It is a neurological proven fact that we compartmentalise our thoughts. Normally we can manage 7 simultaneous thoughts – when we are stressed this is reduced to only 5… as most of my days are filled with at least this many thoughts about the house and my working future it is no small wonder that I am currently struggling to write anything down!

The advice is the same wherever I look, if you are tired ‘take a break!’ allow yourself permission to down tools.

Sometimes you can no longer juggle – you have to put the balls down to wipe your hands (and brow)!

MOVING FORWARD (without a pen in hand)


Consider all your successes.

Concentrate on these – they are positive and will hush your negative gremlins. Mine include;

writers I have met, friends I have made, websites I have found, opportunities for submission, expanding my knowledge, training in genres, participating in online courses, influences and inspiration I have discovered.

And here are some tips I have picked up for moving on from this BLOCK.

  1. Focus on the process of writing rather than the result. (This will take the pressure off.)
  2. Take a break, allocate some time away from writing, but make sure you return.
  3. Don’t give up!
  4. Declutter your writing space. (Cluttered space, cluttered mind.)


If you are suffering set backs, blocks or a lack of motivation – make a plan. ‘There is no beginning too small.’ Here’s mine.


  • Cultivate my inspiring angel voice – the writing warrior inside me who can tell the writing gremlins to shut up. Dispel negative thoughts by turning them around (like a battery has a positive and negative end – so too do my thoughts!)


  • Create a daily writing habit (something I have abandoned) this can be as simple as 10 minutes a day of journal/ freewriting in a notebook, you don’t even need to get out of bed!


  • Start loving your writing and the process of writing again.


  • Don’t give up! Giving up will only make you feel worse.


  • Be gentle on yourself.


Happy writing!

Current Issues – Writing and the Summer


imagesCAWTNYTO I spent a lot of time in the garden today reading articles and thinking about what was happening to me and my writing life. I scribbled some notes for a blog post in the boarders of the magazine before coming indoors to get my writers notebook!

Now I have spent a few hours processing my thoughts and what was originally a ‘woe is me’ type of post became a positive one about how to get over hurdles.

FOR ANY WRITER WHO IS STRUGGLING… or for any reader who may be interested in my writing life. (Or lack of it!)

*It’s important to represent a writer’s life honestly, it isn’t always a story told by words alone.*

© N.A Lewis 2013


Part 1


I have struggled to produce any work or do any writing for a while. Maybe this is burn out fatigue post – Camp NaNoWriMo, which although I won I am still disappointed in myself for reducing my word count from 35000 to 20000. (Time restraints and summer visitors/ socialising/ moving house… my list of excuses could be longer!)

The truth is I haven’t written ANYTHING except blog posts and comments for the whole of August so far. I forced myself to spend some time researching and looking for new opportunities. I had to force myself to complete a writing schedule for August (they haven’t been completed since June!)

I started to put this into perspective the only person pushing me is myself – but I think freelancers have to drive their own workload – there aren’t many options for delegation -although, as I have learnt in my working life – BALANCE is also important!



There is a reason that I am not writing. It could be;



lack of energy

they are all the same thing really!

All I know is that a lack of energy coupled with the act of NOT WRITING has left me feeling deflated and depressed. I cannot allow the happiness writing gives me and my passion for creating it slip. I know negative emotions will eat away at any energy I can muster. My writing spirit is under attack from the gremlins that exist in all writer’s heads!

I have considered a write away day – especially in the light of the fact that our new home is still in boxes and a bit upside down and I do not have a designated writing space organised yet. I have considered visiting the library for a 2 hour slot on a public access PC. I have lots of ideas about this and will link up with a specific blog post soon. <LINK TO COME>

All I have managed to do so far to combat this WALL I have hit is to dive into research and reading. I question whether this act is another way of avoiding the writing altogether. I am frustrated that I am no longer producing writing. I have as yet no income from the writing and progress is slow.

THIS IS THE POINT WHERE I STARTED SHOUTING AT MYSELF (not literally) for being so hard on myself!

I could list all the changes that I have experienced this year, but you have probably read all the posts and have a good idea what’s going on! I should be grateful that I have found any time at all to write so far this year!

suggestion box


There is no place for you here!

Keep on going. Stay at the desk and write or take your writing elsewhere and get it done and MOST IMPORTANTLY … enjoy it! Acknowledge that this is part of all our stories – we all know writer’s block exists. It is part of the creative process. It is not the end of the world. Keep on. Keep on.

There are plenty of failures well known and successful authors have overcome in their time.  Failure is a theme, it exists and it is there for us to overcome.

It is part of the ‘journey’ and it will be familiar to many of you!

pencil paper freestock

In Part 2 I address negativity and share what I have been doing today to ‘get over it’ and what you can do about your own writing monsters!