Restarting the Flow — What to Do When the Words Won’t Come

A week or so ago, I wrote about what to do when you can’t meet a deadline.  Little did I know that I was going to be faced with that vary situation in just a few days time.

Many of the articles I write are based on interviews.  I had two deadlines on the same day and needed 9 or more interviews total to be able to write them.  One week before the articles were due, and I was still gathering the interviews.  With the 4th of July falling in the middle of the week, many people had taken extra time off work.  As they came back, they were returning my calls but it wasn’t going to be fast enough.

I tried roughing out the articles, knowing that I could fit quotes in at the last minute.   Not only did the writing not flow, it didn’t even flow like molasses on a cold day.  It was much more like continental drift.   Sure, I was getting words on paper, but this would not be even close to suitable for my editor.

I sent her a quick e-mail asking for a one week extension on the pair.

Two more interviews came in for each.  I still had a few to gather, but I decided to try working with the material I now had.  Yes, I had more information, but with the pressure off, the words came quickly.  I shifted the organizing of each piece a bit and the new material helped, but that wasn’t the whole reason things were working.

The pressure was off.  I could sit back and just write.   As I type this up, one article is all but ready to turn in three days before the original deadline.  The other isn’t quite as polished, and probably they will take 2 to 3 more drafts each, but now it looks do-able.

When the words won’t flow, look for the source of pressure that has tied you in a knot.  You may not be able to do anything about it, but if you can, you may be surprised by the results.