404 How I Ruined My Writing

How I Ruined My Writing

I’ve discovered the secret to writer’s block. Not how to overcome it…how to get it. It’s easier than you think. I just had to make one small change to what I was doing.

When I started writing my blog over 2 years ago, I couldn’t contain myself. I was an open hydrant, the words were water. Today, writing feels more like a mirage in the desert. I feel like I see something and as soon as I run toward it, it disappears.

So what caused this block? This dwindling of inspiration? This funk? It was one thing.

MONEY

When I made the decision to leave my day job for my dream job, I had a plan. My dream job is only part time which was actually supposed to be a blessing. With the additional free time, I could focus on my writing. The idea was to use the time to generate freelance gigs and maybe even a book deal.

Fast forward 10 months and I’ve all but lost my love for writing. I feel like all my ideas have dried up. I pretty much hate everything that I write. To make things worse, I received the first rejection to my book proposal. (It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but it wasn’t awesome either.) Oh and guess what…my writing has generated ZERO DOLLARS.

Once I began writing with the agenda of making money, everything changed. I felt tremendous pressure to be creative. My writing wasn’t just about sharing from my heart, it was about getting noticed. I needed people to think my words were worth money. And that is when my writer’s block came in full force.

Before this, I didn’t have a grid for writer’s block. I would have some mornings where it didn’t flow but I wouldn’t call that writer’s block. It was mostly a lack of focus. The idea faucet stayed on. Those days feel a million years away.

I’m still figuring out where to go from here. I just know something has to change. And maybe when I get back to where I need to be, this mirage of words will turn into an oasis.

Comments

  1. Maybe it’s a bit late to respond, but I feel like saying a couple works. One, writers block sucks. No better way to put it. For over a year I haven’t written maybe more than 5 articles. Your reasoning resonates with my own. I began to write, not for greed, but to fuel my pride. Not from the heart. Not from the overflow. It’s taken me so long to realize it, but I’m hopeful that the flow will return, though only a steady trickle now; it’s better than being parched.

    • Thanks for sharing, Jesse. I still haven’t gotten back into the groove of writing on my blog. I’ve been writing in other places but I’m still feeling a bit parched. Hopefully things will turn around soon.

  2. Tony,I know that I have lost focus from time to time. I’ve been guilty of comparing myself to others, and wanting to make it “big”. Just last night had to renew my focus on the things that matter, and seek first his kingdom, and just write for the sake of writing,knowing that i have something to share, and that God may or may not bless me with a book deal, or a #1 blog. But if I focus on what matters, and look to share my writing because I just want, just maybe greater things will come down the road. But If they don’t I’ll still feel blessed. God bless you brother!
    Juan Cruz Jr recently posted..Running for my Life by Lopez Lomong, with Mark Tabb (Book Review)

    • Yeah, I’ve been doing the comparison thing lately. I don’t think it’s out loud, but definitely in my mind. I feel like I’m not able to write how others write and then I doubt if I have anything valuable to contribute. But that didn’t happen when I wasn’t reading anyone else’s stuff and just sharing my heart. Maybe I need to get back to that.

  3. I understand Tony. I’ve been there and still trying to get out of the funk. You can do it! You’re awesome by the way.

  4. You’ll get there. I just know it. 🙂

    You’ve had so much transition in the past year. I know that transition affects my thought life a lot more than I once gave it credit for. I’ve realized I need to grieve {or say farewell/reflect on where I’ve been} in order to move forward.

    • Yeah transition seems to seep into everything, doesn’t it. I haven’t had a consistent posting schedule since getting married. I haven’t even considered moving forward with a new routine so maybe it’s time to rethink how this whole writing thing works for me as a married man.

  5. It’s so odd, but I feel like so many people are going through this. I can’t tell you how many of our blogging/writing friends have told me the exact same thing, and I myself have been struggling with it, too. I’ve been struggling more with writer’s block in the past 4 months than I did the entire first two years of my blog, when I can honestly say I didn’t know what I was doing. The surprising thing is that even though I had no strategy back then for sharing my work with others or blogging well – strong, unique, focused content with the confidence to seek writing opportunities elsewhere like Prodigal and Relevant – I had something “figured out” then that I’ve somehow forgotten : how to write without thinking about what other people will think. It’s good to care about my content, but the pressure to “wow” people has totally smothered my creative process. I’m just trying to return to that routine I had, and let myself breathe. Last week I didn’t write at all online, and I forced myself to journal. It was painful, but this week I feel able again. Not confident, just willing to try.
    bethany recently posted..Poem : Penumbra.

    • I wonder if we read too much and this overload of information overwhelms us; the whole paralysis of analysis phenomenon. I definitely find myself over-thinking everything rather than just going with what’s in my heart.

  6. I don’t know about you, but I view my writing as a part of ministry, and like everything in ministry I am constantly having to evaluate my motive and refocus my heart. It is so easy to lose sight of God’s glory and start to focus on results. As I’m sure you know, any ministry that is results-oriented is going to be a bummer. That is a slippery slope. The best thing, for me, is to step back, take a breather, and figure out why I’m writing, what my goal is, and whether or not the two are rightly purposed. My husband is always quick to remind me that Isaiah preached for 60 years without a single convert, and if that is my fate am I willing to press on? That’s a question we all have to ask.

    • I definitely see my writing as a ministry. I always want there to be a greater purpose to it and not just for my own benefit. That’s how it started and that’s how I want to keep it.

      I’m trying to manage the tension of doing it for God and bearing fruit. I know my idea of “bearing fruit” may very well be different from what God sees.

  7. Don’t be discouraged, Tony. Your journey is following a normal curve. We’ve all experienced the deflection of our energies into “making a living.”

    At the risk of offering a spiritual platitude, I encourage you to “delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” That raises the important question that faces us all: what do you really want?

    You’ve already received good advice from three of your friends. You should follow it. And I promise you, young man, if all you’ve received so far is one rejection on your book, then you’re early in the game. I don’t say that to discourage you, but to help you prepare for what’s ahead.

    If you decide to self-publish, I’ll be happy to be a sounding board. I’ve already been down that path and made a few mistakes. I might be able to save you a little heartache.

    May the Lord bless you. Soli Deo Gloria
    Jim Hamlett recently posted..Top Ten Reasons To Be A Pilot

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Jim. I really need to get back to what God is saying in all of this. I feel like I’ve been at it in my own strength these past couple of months.

      I’m not really too bummed about the first rejection. It’s just one more thing, you know? Should I decide to self-publish, I’ll definitely reach out. I can use all the insight I can get!

      • I’m here to help, Tony. Holler when you need it. Plus, if you just want a sounding board and don’t mind an “older” board (I’m in my sixties–I’ve been around the block a couple of times) then shoot me an email (jimh@gracefulword.com). Glad to chat.
        Jim Hamlett recently posted..Top Ten Reasons To Be A Pilot

  8. It can be paralyzing to try to think of something brilliant whether or not it’s for a check.

    When I started freelancing, I hit a wall after a year and really despaired about how little money I was making. I had a long conversation with a friend who blogs and had a background in the corporate world. She picked apart everything I was doing and helped me see that I was trying to land articles in magazines that didn’t line up with my passion and that I was neglecting the areas where I did have experience.

    I don’t know what the best advice is for you right now, but I think that listing out all of the different kinds of writing you “could” do may help you see what you’ve been doing and whether you need to shift your focus. Drop me an e-mail if you ever want to talk specifics!
    ed cyzewski recently posted..Creativity Calling: The Gift We All Need to Give

    • Thanks Ed. I very well may have to ask you about that stuff. Right now I think I need to figure out the emotional/spiritual aspect of this thing for me. I believe that is what’s affecting the practical aspect as well. Thank you for being willing to help me with this stuff!

  9. You’d be surprised at what will flow from your heart to screen if you just do it and hit publish.

    Just write.

  10. Very interesting, Tony. I can’t really argue with your personal experience, but I tend to reject the idea of a creative getting paid for their art as the root source of struggles like this.

    Maybe the writer’s block is rearing it’s head because your writing carries more responsibility now. You’re playing for keeps instead of playing around.

    Please know I’m not trying to trivialize your writing (past or present) because I know it has encouraged me and many others.
    ThatGuyKC recently posted..1 Reason I Will Never Be Steve Jobs

  11. Maybe this will help – whether we comment or not, there are those of us who read every word. You’re a great writer, Tony.

    And so what if someone turned down your proposal – send it to someone else. And then someone else. And there’s always self-publishing…once again, we’d read it.

    Don’t give up.
    Ricky Anderson recently posted..How To Put Me Down

  12. It might be time to stop writing for money and start writing for the love of writing again. I’ve seen in other areas of my life, namely within Ignite, that when I’m worried about the money aspect and trying to generate more money, the opportunities dry up. But when I’m not focused on money or trying to find churches to help support us, those connections come without me even trying. I believe the same is true for writing. Stop focusing on the money issue, and the opportunities will come.
    Jason Vana recently posted..Deeper Devotion: Be the Change

    • Yeah, I know that’s what it is but how do you just switch it off? It’s not like I can’t pay the rent or anything but I FEEL like I need to make this happen. I’m just trying to step away and get perspective again.

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