It’s not all that rare these days to read numbered ‘list’ articles like “Top 10 things you didn’t know about <fill in the blank>” and go ‘Woah, I totally relate to that. That is SO me.’ And generally, the immediate urge is to share such things on Facebook or Twitter and tag all your friends who would also relate to the ‘list’. However, this one particular time, I knew I had to expand upon a great ‘list’ about the obstacles to creation and share it with TheRightMargin community.

So if you have a few minutes, read Leo Babauta’s zen habits post on Overcoming the 10 Biggest Obstacles to Creation and let me know just how many you relate to as well. Because I think I’m a solid 10 out of 10 on this one.

obstacles to writingWhat makes his post so great is that he starts with identifying the obstacle (the negative) and then offers suggestions for how to overcome each one (the positive), making me actually feel more zen and more hopeful about creating better habits. Reading it, I almost feel myself doing the common meditative breathing exercise of gathering negative thoughts upon inhale and letting it out of the mind and body upon exhale.

His list is surprisingly all-encompassing, but I’d like to touch on three more obstacles to writing:

1. Having no plan.

A game-plan for writing involves a lot more than starting with an outline–it also involves managing your time and remembering your intention behind the plan.

Why do you want to write?

When are you going to write?

A game-plan involves having detailed steps to finishing.

How am I going to achieve writing chapter 1? Chapter 2? And so on.

Using tools to set goals and to focus on accomplishing small, bite-sized writing tasks one step at a time is a great way to finish a longer, more daunting writing project.

2. Taking feedback.

This is so hard to do sometimes, especially when it’s critical or just plain negative. It’s an obstacle that those of us who want to write to inspire, teach or express must learn to overcome.

Instead, our desire is to think Oh, well you just don’t get it. Others will. Or how about But this is my baby, my creation. How can I possibly cut that part out? Sound familiar?

No one editing or giving feedback on your work intends to depress you, but nonetheless, sometimes it feels that way.

At this point, it’s important to start finding that separation. When we create, it’s natural to feel that the words we write down are part of us. They are! But if you mean to have those words read someday, it is important to let them go and understand that the point is to have them eventually be part of someone else. The words of my most favorite authors are now part of me and I am grateful that they found a way to face the world’s potential criticism.

So take any and all feedback with grace. It’s up to you how much or little to use.

What I like to do is take feedback, leave a project alone for a short period of time to gain some amount of separation and come back to it with fresher eyes or a better perspective.

3. Running out of inspiration.

This obstacle tends to cause a fizzle effect for a lot of writing projects. It’s natural to run out of that fuel we all need to write–inspiration.

If you lose touch with the initial inspiration and motivation that got you started in the first place, it becomes very hard to continue. And that’s okay! We can’t all be running around being inspired every second of the day. You wouldn’t be reading this post if you did feel that way.

It’s okay. Just breathe. Embrace whatever you feel–and know that it can change.

Take a break from the routine. Maybe listen to inspiring music, read (immerse yourself in someone else’s story), take a walk. Maybe go on a trip if you need it. If you run out of fuel, the only thing that will help is giving yourself the space to recharge. When you’ve got your energy back, adjust your plan to make time to reflect. To take a step back from the details of what you’re writing and revisit your big goals for writing.

Why am I doing this again?

Adjust your goals or gameplan if you need to. You will find inspiration again.

I hope those three additions were helpful to you and overcoming your own obstacles to writing. Keep calm and write on.

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