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Writer’s Overload: No Lack of Inspiration, but the Words Evade Me

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the incongruence between the amount of writing you want to do and the amount you are actually completing?

That’s how I’m feeling right now. I have several weeks’ worth of posts rolling around in the big empty cavern known as my brain. But I’m having trouble getting them out of my head and onto the computer screen.

Is it possible to suffer from “writer’s overload”?

A couple of weeks ago, one of my teammates here noted that outlining is a technique some of use neither need nor use because we effectively write our piece in our head — and even edit it — before we ever sit down at the keyboard. I tend to do that . . . while I’m driving, showering, watching television, sitting in band rehearsal waiting for the conductor to finish working with one of the other sections, at lunch . . . Today I spent time working on an article that I have actually been writing in my head for nearly two years. Sometimes an idea flashes into my head for one piece while I’m working on another and I have to stop and jot it down before I lose it. For this reason, it is not unusual to see me sitting in front of my computer with several windows open at once. I toggle from one set of notes or piece to another . . . to another and back again.

But sometimes all those ideas, mental outlines, and even paragraphs that seemed so cogent as I reviewed them silently in the solace of my own thoughts, just won’t find their way to the keyboard in the form of a coherant product.

We’ve talked a lot here about looking for inspiration. But we haven’t addressed the question of what to do when you are inspired to write, want to write, know essentially what you want the content of your piece to be, and actually sit down to write . . . but the words just seem to evade you.

I’ve been dealing with this phenomenon for a couple of days now. I have completed a couple of projects, but only by struggling mightily and it took me at least three times longer to complete them than it normally would have.

I think this is another time when creative lollygagging is in order. Writers talk about punching through writer’s block using a variety of techniques and tricks to make the words flow. But they are generally talking about times when ideas about what to write elude them.

I submit that a different approach is called for when faced with the problem I’m describing. Rather than sitting down and determining to write for 15 minutes no matter what, as one author suggested as a way to overcome writer’s block, I think that it would be more productive to take a break, walk away, think about and do something else, and come back to the task refreshed, with a renewed spirit.

At least for me, this business of trying to “write your way through it” is actually proving to be counterproductive. There are going to be times when we don’t have a choice because we have a deadline to meet. But if that is not a consideration, I think the creative lollygagging idea is a sound one. I’m going to give it a try right now.

Do you have times when the words seem just out of your reach? What do you do to overcome “writer’s overload”? Share your thoughts with me. I’ll be reading your comments with interest throughout the coming week and will let you know next Sunday whether some creative lollygagging pays off for me.

Originally published at Write Stuff.

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