Stuff that gets in the way of writing

Stuff that gets in the way of writing

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.  ~Vita Sackville-West

There is a process to writing and a set of habits or beliefs that get in the way. In this post we explore some of the things that might get in the way of your writing process.

I don’t know what to write about

I hear this all the time ‘I just can’t start, I don’t know what to write’.

It made me ponder about the sub conscious blocks that get in the way. Some days I am motivated by a desire to get my writing done and my stuff out. And some days I can’t be bothered.  This is where your journal comes in, use this to write free style about anything that comes into your head.  Or flick to another chapter and randomly pick an exercise.  Do it, see where it takes you, what does it reveal, can you use it in your book?

Writer’s Block

There is nothing worse than looking at a blank piece of paper and not knowing what to write. This is where randomly doing an exercise from this book helps.  Or ask yourself these questions.

Step 1

  • Why do I want to write?  Or why am I writing this book? List at least 5 reasons.
  • What do I hope to get out of my writing? List at least 5 reasons.

Step 2

  • Reflect on your list or comments, pick 3 that resonate the most and put them in order of priority

Step 3

  • How does that make you feel? ?

The most important thing about this is that you understand why you want to write, not what you will be writing about, just let that flow and it will.  All you need is the desire to write.


Part of writing your book is putting time aside each day as your writing time. My feeling is, if you write daily–great. If you don’t–great! If you don’t write, no problem, no guilt, no worries. However, if you do write, then you may feel calmer, after even just five or ten minutes of writing. As part of your plan you may want to ‘plan’ in down time, so that you can ‘forgive’ yourself for the odd blip.  When I put my plans together, I always add in an extra 20% for those times when I don’t feel like writing.

Going around in circles

Do you feel sometimes like you are going over the same territory not moving forward, just going in circles?  That’s ok too, that’s where reflecting comes in.  Do you need to put your writing to one side or start another chapter.  When you stand back, observe, take some time out you will come back refreshed.  You may of course be trying to write something that doesn’t want or need to be written.  Put it to one side and consider where your story is going and if you need that piece in this book.  Remember don’t throw it away, put it in your journal for later and reflect.


I used to be scared that someone would find my writing; my journal is very private.  The journal is where I pour it all out.

Fear is usually about some unknown future event that may never happen.  When we sense danger – real or imagined – our body reacts because our primary drive is to survive, we feel unsafe, so we simply don’t write.  One way to learn to face your fears is to write them down and then create some kind of dialogue around them, or look at them from another’s perspective.


Write your fears down, make a list and next to each write what the opposite quality would be and how that quality would overcome the fear.  If you are feeling silly make up a conversation between the fear and the positive quality.  What does your fear say?  What feedback and insight does the positive quality give?


Telling the truth.  Your journal, which is part of your writers toolkit, is where you have an opportunity to be honest with yourself, where you can let go and say it as it is.

We can learn a lot from our honesty and when we write from a place which is full of emotion it is far better than any skilled writer could ever achieve.  When it comes from your gut and not your head, you will learn so much about yourself. Let your values shine through your writing.

Telling tales

Keeping a journal is not about telling tales or made up stories, it is about being blunt and truthful, whilst maintaining your personal integrity. Write as it is.  It is really important that you just write naturally, it doesn’t matter if you can’t spell or if your grammar leaves a lot to be desired this is not a writing competition this is your journal and your life. The rule is, there are no rules

This journal is yours, the way you write in it, how you use it, is yours and yours alone. Nobody can tell you what to do how to do it. You are a journal rebel!


We often procrastinate as a way to cope, to put things off until another day and not face what we need to do.  That’s ok, it’s human.  However, once you break the habit by working out where it originated from you will be back on track in no time at all.  People who procrastinate usually want to see something perfect and are probably a little self critical.


Keep a procrastination log and then create strategies for overcoming each one.

Expectations of perfection

The truth is ugly and sometimes when we write our stuff we wonder how we could think or feel such things.  Well we do, and you have to decide, do you want to tell your story or not?

The other side of perfection is never being satisfied with what you have written.  If it is never written, you will never know just how good, compelling and interesting it is.


When you write in a private journal and know that your thoughts are safe, that there aren’t any reasons not to write, you can give yourself permission to write from the heart.  Once you feel comfortable with writing and have given yourself permission there will be nothing to stand in the way of you and your truth.

It doesn’t matter that you haven’t recorded the last 20, 30, 40 years, today is the perfect day to start your story.

Limiting self beliefs

Self-limiting beliefs are negative thoughts and beliefs, which hinder your ability to move forward.  They are like little monsters constantly telling you that you can’t. When it comes to writing or any other creative talent we often look at others work and believe that we could never be that good.  In journaling that doesn’t matter, its private.  When it comes to writing, I also believe that, others opinions are largely irrelevant.  If you get pleasure then surely that is enough. Much of what we do is shaped by our thoughts, in the words of Henry Ford, whether you think you can or can’t either way you are right.


When your inner critic pops up her ugly head, keep a note of what she is saying.  Come back to your critic after a walk, sleep, cup of tea and write give her some advice.  It’s amazing what you respond with when you put it to one side and let your subconscious contemplate it.

A memoir / life story is like an onion, it will come out in layers.  As you peel each one away another is revealed.  Don’t be surprised if your onion is an odd shape.


Finding motivation to keep going sometimes alludes us.  It’s at times like these I think it is sensible to not beat yourself up and take a break.  Go for a walk, take a yoga class, swim, anything other than sit around looking forlorn at your computer.


Create a reward system. Then work out a way to reward yourself for each small step that you achieve.

I get days when I don’t want to write and so I don’t.  However I know when I do I get great rewards.  Things leave my mind and I sleep better.


When you lack motivation you are easily distracted and it’s easier to go and do something else.  For me having a journal by the side of my bed and in my handbag means that I can scribble at anytime, however small.

Mind chatter

Mind chatter is that endless, relentless stream of thoughts that wander around our minds distracting and de motivating us.  When you mind is full of rubbish it is hard to concentrate on other things.  This is when your journal is really your best friend.  Get scribbling, it doesn’t matter if it seems incoherent or meaningless, get it down and let it rest a while.  When you come back to it, you will be able to see the answers with so much more clarity.

Starting too big

There is nothing more off putting than looking at this project and feeling overwhelmed at the amount of work you have to do.  My advice is to break each part down into bitesized projects and do one well before moving onto another.  We all work differently and what works for me is to plan it out roughly with post its, reflect, move them around until they make sense, create a folder, build an outline in my word processor, write short sections putting them where I think they need to go, reflect, move parts around, then spend some time on each section writing and editing.

]“Thank you to the brilliant and intuitive Jacqui Malpass for a great day exploring the process of writing a book. I would highly recommend a day with Jacqui if you have ever considered writing a book, and want to explore whether it is for you, in an allowing way that lets things flow, or if you know you want to write a book and want to get in tune with what you want to write. Loved the day, Jacqui! xxx.”

Do you have a book idea and can’t get it started or to flow, do you need to find your writing process?  Book a one to one day with me, you will walk away with your book idea fleshed out and ready to write.

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