How to spot the smokescreens that stop you from writing

To celebrate the start of the next session of my Writer’s Circle this coming Monday, I’m sharing a free four-part series on How to Find the Courage to Share the Stories You Are Longing To Tell.”

Our series continues with Part 2: “How to Spot the Stealthy Smokescreens that Stop You From Writing.”

To read yesterday’s post, “Why It Requires Courage to Write”, click here.

How to spot the stealthy smokescreens that stop you from writing

If you’re longing to write, but not doing it, you’re probably doing a number of other things instead. I think of these as “smokescreens”, because very often we don’t realize that we are fooling ourselves about why we are not writing — our fear. Our smokescreens mask that raw, naked fear and keep us busy thinking something else is going on.

Most people who say they want to write but aren’t doing it are usually instead:

  1. Retreating into fantasy.

    When you’re retreating into fantasy instead of writing, you’ll notice yourself dreaming about the day when you finally have enough time to write.

    You’ll usually have a story about needing to deal with something else first, like: Making more money, getting enough childcare, getting the house clean, finishing that other big project, just getting through this one rough patch in life, etc., but the truth is that there is nothing stopping you from writing right now.

  2. Procrastinating.

    If you’re graduated from fantasy land about writing someday, but still not writing, you’ve probably moved on to procrastination or one of the other tricky smokescreens below.

    Procrastination turns up when you’ve made the time to write, but when it comes time to do it, your bathroom suddenly looks really dirty or you realize you are massively behind on [your email, your laundry, your sex life, your book keeping, your fill-in-an-excuse-here].

    I’ve seen some writers say that procrastination is a good thing — that we’re allowing our creative ideas to build up before they come bursting out of us — but I read procrastination as fear, often wrapped up with perfectionism.

  3. Feeling apathetic.

    Apathy rears it’s ugly head and tells us that we don’t care. It sounds like, “I mean, what’s the point? I don’t even FEEL like writing today. I’d much rather watch Castle or catch up on polishing my silver. Writing isn’t that important.”

    ANNNH. Wrong answer.

    What’s really going on here is again, you guessed it, fear. This is fear masquerading as apathy, only it’s so tricky it’s got you believing you aren’t even interested. Think again.

  4. Wandering in a fog of creative confusion.

    Creative confusion is the stealthy partner creative apathy. Creative confusion keeps us spinning in circles, telling us that we don’t know what to write. It keeps you vacillating between having too many ideas and not knowing where to start.

    The antidote for creative confusion is often brainstorming, putting ANY words on the page, asking yourself a great question (“What do I really want to say here?”) or simply picking a project to start with. Sometimes we just make it too complicated, again because we’re letting our fear get the better of us.


Here’s what I want you to take away from this: When you are fantasizing about writing, procrastinating about writing, or feeling apathetic or creatively confused about writing, you are operating out of fear. It might not LOOK like far, but the odds are high that it’s fear running the show.

But because you know this now, you have the chance to bust that fear wide open and move past it.

“Ah ha! You can’t fool me,” you will say to your fear and self-doubt. “I see you, and I know you are trying to stop me… but it won’t work.”

Then coax yourself to the page, and start writing. ANYTHING. Seriously. Because the antidote to any of these creative smokescreens is ACTION.

Your turn

What does this illuminate for you? Share your responses in the comments.

And stay tuned for the next post in this series coming your way tomorrow, “How to Find Your True Stories.” Watch for it on the blog or subscribe here.

About the Writer’s Circle

I inspire writers to find the courage to share the stories they are secretly longing to tell but are afraid won’t be heard or accepted. If you’d like company on your writer’s journey, I want to invite you to join the next session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle, which starts this coming Monday, February 20th. In the Writer’s Circle, you’ll find the peer support and accountability you need to bust yourself on the smokescreens and obstacles you’re creating around your writing and get your words on the page. Registration closes THIS THURSDAY, February 16th.

Find out more and register here:

“Good if you want to write more and make fewer excuses not to write.”

“I loved leaving and getting comments on the daily progress. It made me write almost every day! Now, I’m writing more consistently and I’m feeling good about all of it. I like getting to know the other participants. I’m feeling consistently creative. This Writer’s Circle is good if you want to write more and make fewer excuses not to write. It’s so easy to talk oneself into not doing something creative and instead doing something mundane.”
~ Giulietta Nardone, Inspirational rebel, Writer and Karaoke singer,

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