Almost as soon as you have published your last great work it is a fact that the writer’s mind turns to questions about what to write next. Of course there are many challenges to getting this done, including:
- Publicising prior works
- Other things in life that must be done
- Deadlines on projects
- Taking some time off (for whatever you enjoy)
- The fear of getting it wrong
If you write a blog then chances are you put yourself under enormous pressure to write that next great piece, and then the mind goes blank, you look at yourself in the mirror all you see is a thousand question marks, each telling their story, each having a personal failure to hammer at you, each egging you on but at the same giving nagging doubts, the longer you leave writing the greater the doubts become. Then you find you are no longer writing, having succumbed to the worst of your own fears.
Hopefully you have a good day job that allows you to grow as a writer and affords you time to take ample notes, but this isn’t always possible, so you have to use your mind as a way to collect ideas that can be jotted down later in your notebook or journal.
So what are you going to write next? I have two tasks on my plate today, painting a room and starting to write a manual for a course we shall be running in the future. One of these gives me time to reflect, but the other is a major task that won’t be accomplished in a single day and in the meanwhile I will have opportunities to write on other topics, yet accomplish those other tasks at the same time, fortunately our subconscious mind allows us to think in multiple directions at the same time.
The human mind is a wonderful thing and only about 10% of the things we achieve come from the conscious part of the mind. Our conscious mind drives so much of who or what we are, it could be compared to the command centre, yet so much more comes from the subconscious and unconscious portions of our mind which act as the engine room carrying out the directions sent their way, tasks that the conscious mind has set them. This is one of the key reasons writers should have a journal in which we jot down ideas (indeed any inventive person should have such a journal) but ideas noted down need to be regularly reviewed to see if they can be expanded..
Is it time for an idea to come to fruition? Only time will tell. For the writer those ideas can rattle around in the subconscious for quite a time before finding the appropriate moment at which they must be expressed. I find this as true for this article as for any other that I have written.
Should we rush to formulate those ideas? Someone told me a long time ago that there is nothing as bad as a half-baked idea, yet at times it seems the only choice is to formulate the half-baked idea knowing that you need input from others in order to move it forward, so of course there is room to publish thoughts that are not fully tested, of course the writer must put forward such ideas with less authority than those which have been subject to rigorous testing, although such ideas are no less valid, perhaps simply a little rawer, perhaps even uncooked, but if you thinks about it every recipe needs its raw ingredients.
Truth is writers have to constantly be on the lookout for new material, but at the same time they come across many snippets of information that may or may not be of any use in the future, that is what is the purpose of a writer’s journal to record something which may have future value. One thing the journal is not is a diary or account of how good or bad the day was, instead it is a place to record ideas, snippets, things you have heard etc. Personally I use an electronic journal, but I know many writers use a paper notebook to jot down their experiences and things they hear or see.
I often take notes for ideas, perhaps they are only a paragraph in length, but if I look back at my notes on a regular basis, adding new thoughts when they occur it may take several weeks before an idea resembles anything that can be used as the basis for an article, but of course there is still a long way to go before the piece is publishable.
Some notes never get beyond a paragraph or two, perhaps gathering dust, never really coming together, perhaps they are ready to be deleted (let’s face it not every idea is worthy of pursuing to completion). If you don’t gather the thoughts though they can never go anywhere, which is why I think that note-taking is an essential skill for any writer.
So, what will you be writing next?
Have you formulated any idea yet? It is something I am always thinking about, which is why I have never really suffered writer’s block, I may not feel like writing on a particular day, but that is not in my mind the same as having writer’s block, if I stop writing I feel the pain (or perhaps guilt) of not working on something, time to return to that question — what will you be writing next? With that nagging thought in the air it is necessary to start some notes and get the subconscious or unconscious working on a new project.
What will it be? I have just thought about mine (and jotted down a few notes), but have you thought about yours?
Writing is however more than simply jotting down a few thoughts and throwing them out into the ether, our ideas have to be gathered, rationalised, put in order, crafted in a way to make logical sense, sanitised, decomposed, put back together, edited, read out loud, then re-edited in order to be ready for publication, even on a humble publication like a blog takes more effort than dropping a collection of thoughts onto the page, thrown together in a random way. Writers use words, sentences and paragraphs in a logical way in order to make sense and develop the story which will be understood by our readers.
One writer recently told me “there have been many times where I had ‘writers block’ until about an hour before a deadline each time somehow I have managed to put an article together. Strangely enough my editor OFTEN commented that those were my best work, not knowing they were written in a blur”. Truth is that looming deadline can cause us to focus when necessary. I take the opposite view preferring to edit and re-edit my work in plenty of time to meet the deadline, I will not send it in till the last minute because I still think I can improve it.