Thoughts about How to Overcome the Hesitation in Writing

by Kathy Larson and Sheila Bender

Content partners Kathy Larson and Sheila Bender respond below to the question of how to help you start writing when you don’t feel like it.

Kathy Larson, content partner for LifeJournal for Educators reports:

When I have days where my mind is like a fine gold necklace that was stored in a jewelry box and has multiple knots to untangle before wearing, I almost have to write in my journal because the thoughts keep coming back and my distractions about the day keep me from doing anything else.

I start by bulleting every thought that I’ve been thinking. I just let the “knots unwind” through the bullet points. I stop myself from wanting to elaborate on each one, I just put them down in the order they appear in my thoughts. It’s really a “mind note taking”…as the thoughts come, I bullet them in the order they come.

Sheila Bender, the content partner for LifeJournal for Writers, writes:

Writers very often don‘t know what they want to write so much as they are curious to find out what they have said once they have written. Even with a compelling curiosity, they still must overcome the inertia of going from a “not writing” state to a “writing” state.

Using prompts and trusting what springs to mind in response is an excellent strategy for making the transition.  In this way, writers get at “things slant,” as Emily Dickinson is famous for advising us that we must [write] if we are to find what is at the bottom of our hearts and minds.  When I use prompts I like, I trust that my insight will surface if I am not looking directly at it, but rather at a strategy for writing.

One such strategy is writing down an admonishment I heard often as a child, who said it, where we were and what happened a particular time that I heard it. When I use prompts, I take an unintended journey–which puts a much more motivating spin on that “I don’t know what I’d write about if I wrote” mood. Soon, seeking the adventure of finding out what I’ll write overcomes my inertia and before I know it, I am feeling pleased with myself and interested in what I have to say.