Friday, October 26, 2012

The Secret to Overcoming Writer's Lag

writer's lag: n. a period of time when a writer just doesn't write for no apparent reason at all other than lethargy.

(Honestly, I have no idea how proper dictionary formatting is, so let the above formatting be adequete.)

Writer's lag is not writer's block. Lag is when the writer just doesn't write; they blog, they Tweet, they social-network-ize, they read, everything. But when they remember they should be writing, they get all fidgety and guilty. Yea, that sounds like me right now. I should be writing right now, and instead I'm blogging because I can't open the word document.

I just came across this quote on Twitter:

"The secret to getting ahead is getting started." -- Agatha Christie. That should be my motto, and NaNoWriMo's as well. That is one awesome quote.

Here are the steps to the secret of overcoming lag.

Step 1:


Just pull up the word document, and type the first word. It doesn't matter about the scene coming up and how you will set it up and how oh-so-hard it will be and how you don't know where to begin -- stop. Write the freaking first word.

Everything flows SOOOOO much faster after that first word. The 2nd hardest thing to do is pull up the document; the hardest is writing that first word instead of Youtubing Adele music videos.

However, we writers (at least, me) have only a little self-discipline, so we need something more tangible.

Step 2:


Just sign up.

If you're struggling through your edits and drafting because of writer's lag, sign up for NaNoWriMo. This is the perfect time to be a lagging writer because November is coming up! So start smiling, you lag-writers (me included), because this opportunity just fell in your lap.

If you get lag in March, pretend you have a PerMarchWriMo (Personal March Writing Month). Have as many as you want, and post a sign saying "1,667 words" (or maybe even 2,000) above your workspace.

Just do it. Don't overthink it.

(See Step 4)

Step 3:

A community.

If you don't have one, I strongly strongly strongly (STRONGLY) suggest you join one. Maybe you have a writers' group around your library? Maybe you can create one? Maybe you can just talk to your non-writer friends about it? Or maybe go here or here or the many other writerly websites around the Internet. ANYTHING! The groups will spur you on and keep you going; I owe Agent Query Connect a HUGE debt of gratitude for keeping me going. Huge. Also, many famous writers have had famous writerly friends: JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis; Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and many more.

Step 4:

Don't over think it. That is usually the root cause of writer's lag. Don't think, "Oh gosh, 2,000 words, oh gosh, will I have time, should I wait until night to start it, because my cousins are coming over in thirty minutes." Just write. Don't over think it!

The biggest, BIGGEST hardship in writers' lag (not block) is pulling up the word document and typing that first sentence. It's dreadful and foreboding. All you need to do is get comfy, pull up the laptop, and don't over thinking it. Just do.

Now I need to take this advice :) I'm hoping NaNoWriMo will spur me on, and I'm signing up as soon as I finish up this post! Wish me luck!

Have you guys ever experienced writer's lag? How do you overcome it? And who's doing NaNoWriMo?


  1. I went for months without any idea of what to write. Once I finally latched onto an idea (and spent months outlining it) it only took me two months to complete the first draft.
    No NaNo this year, but it does motivate!

  2. Is there a sign-up thing? lol I was just planning on doing it. Guess I'll go look at the website. X)

  3. I'm doing NaNo! Can't wait, actually!

    Look for me over there - DaisyC

    This is a great post! I love your Agatha Christie quote- it could be used for so many things!

  4. *Love*

    I'm a HUGE NaNo fan...

    And it really just does come down to sitting down and DOING IT. :)

  5. I don't think I've experienced a writer's lag. I'm usually excited to write.

    I'm not doing NaNo. I'm currently working on the edits to one novel, and haven't finished researching and planning the new one.