Way back in the day, when my blog was a wee baby* I wrote a post about writer’s doubt. Continuing in that vein, today I want to discuss the first of a two-part series on writer’s problems: writer’s itch.
Writer’s itch can be caused by many different things, but before I get into causes and cures, I want to talk about the symptoms. What even is “writer’s itch” you ask? It’s that feeling you get when a story is begging you to write it. When you find yourself constantly daydreaming about your characters, when you write sentences and paragraphs and scenes in your mind, turning the words over and over until they are perfect. When all you want to do is cancel your plans for the day and write.
For me, this usually happens when I haven’t had time to work on my novel for a few weeks. It’s a slow buildup of ideas and scenes that I haven’t had time to get onto paper (or more realistically, into a word document), and eventually my creative side says “stop all this and pay attention to ME,” typically at a moment when I can’t/shouldn’t be writing, such as late at night while I’m trying to fall asleep, or right before I have an exam or an assignment due. How convenient. But not all writer’s itch is caused simply by lack of writing. Sometimes it hits me while I’m working on one project and some other random project that I’ve set aside for ages or have had cooking in my brain for a long time will come along and ask why I’m not paying any attention to it. Or better yet a sudden stroke of brilliance will hit me for an entirely new story and I’ll be super inspired to write it, and it will take all my self control not to drop everything then and there and write like a fiend until it’s done.
Writer’s itch can be a fickle thing, however, and if not properly treated, it can lead to an even worse problem: writer’s block. And since nobody wants that, I will kindly impart to you lovely readers the proper** way to deal with writer’s itch so you can avoid falling into the deep dark pit of writer’s block.
First, when you get that itch, or when the urge to write has hit a crescendo, don’t ignore it! You won’t necessarily feel like writing tomorrow when you have time. Heck, you may not even feel like writing in two hours when you have time. You have two options: If you have time to stop everything and write, do so. But, as is much more often the case for me, if you physically can not stop everything on a whim and write for hours, I recommend grabbing a pen and paper and quickly jotting down two or three notes to yourself so that later when you have the time but not the will, you can remember that sentence or phrase or character that you really wanted to write.
Second, take some time to write on a regular basis. For me right now being so busy, that means I write every Sunday (whether or not that actually happens is another story…), though in an ideal world I would be able to spend time writing every day. This is extremely helpful because writing regularly, along side all the ‘practice makes perfect’ and ‘strengthen your writing muscles’ stuff, gets your ideas out of your head and into a physical form so that later they aren’t eating you when you are supposed to be focusing on other things, like driving, or not spilling HCl all over your lab partner***.
Third, find some writing buddies who understand your pain! They say misery loves company, and nothing could be truer when it comes to sharing writing woes with other writers. These writer friends don’t have to be close to you in a geographical sense, either. The internet is a beautiful thing when it comes to staying connected with people. So near or far, grab your writing buddies and tell them about these awesome ideas that you have and how much you want to write them, if only there was time. They will understand, and comfort you with chocolate and time-turners. 🙂
Thus concludes this week’s instalment of writer’s problems. Stay tuned until next time, when I shall rant about writer’s block in a hopefully coherent manner.
Have you ever experienced writer’s itch, and if you have, how did you deal with it? Tell me below in the comments!
*So about six months ago
**According to me, anyway.
**I* have never actually spilled acid in chemistry lab, thank you very much. It’s just an example.