It Might Not Be You: 5 Things That Might Be Affecting Your Writing
August 25, 2023
Everyone experiences highs and lows with their writing. One day you’re the greatest writer in the world, and the next, you’re the worst writer of all time. It’s easy to blame ourselves when the writing just isn’t coming together on the page the way we think it should. After all, we’re the ones who are typing on the keyboard (or not typing and procrastinating said typing).
If we’re not to blame for our writing, then who or what is?
Well, it turns out there are a number of things that might be affecting your writing, which we’ve highlighted below, so you can finally let yourself off the hook.
Location is crucial to your writing performance. Environmental distractions of any sort, whether it’s your roommate, partner, pets, or kids, can hinder how and what you write.
If you can’t feel completely calm and focused on your work because you’re dealing with a barking dog or a noisy neighbor, it’s going to show up on the page. It could even be something like a lack of fresh air or not having any air conditioning that’s making you uncomfortable and therefore unable to concentrate on your writing.
This is why finding the ideal writing environment is crucial for not only your sanity but your writing too.
If you need a new writing spot, check out this article from ScreenCraft on The Best Places in the World for Screenwriters to Write.
Don’t Let Anxiety Take Over
How are you feeling, really? While it’s been said that writing can help with anxiety, focus, and confidence, if you’re experiencing high levels of stress, then that’s definitely going to affect your writing.
During an exceptionally anxiety-riddled time in my life, no matter how eager I was to write, I couldn’t bring myself to type more than a few lines a day. Even then, my writing felt stilted and forced. I didn’t like what I wrote (which made me feel even worse).
Sometimes writing can be healing, but sometimes we need to tend to our mental health first before we can return to the page with a fresh perspective and a clear mind.
Strong Body, Strong Mind!
Writers can be a stubborn breed so even if we’re sick or injured, somehow, some way, we will try to find our way to the page. Why do we torture ourselves like this?
Last year I insisted on writing while I had a concussion. Even though I couldn’t see straight, I denied my brain’s need for rest so I could satisfy my ego. Well, let me tell you, not surprisingly, the writing sucked and I felt horrible — in more ways than one.
If you’re sick, take care of yourself. Sleep, hydrate, and do what you need to feel like your best self again. The writing will be there when you’re healed and recuperated — and will be even better.
Read More: 5 Tips To Staying in Screenwriting Shape
It's Not Them, It's You
Our relationships probably affect our writing the most. After all — who else are we writing about? But our relationships can also affect how we write, especially during a not-so-great time.
For example, if you’re experiencing a lot of stress from your partner or love interest, like while in the midst of a breakup or divorce or even an anxiety-inducing situationship, it will most likely interfere with your writing. Same goes for dealing with a sick loved one, like a child or a parent. No matter how much we insist on writing through our heartbreak or pain (we’re artists…this is what we do…or say we say to ourselves, anyway) if we don’t properly grieve or deal with whatever is happening in our personal life, our writing will reap the consequences.
Sometimes we can turn the grief and pain into something amazing, but that’s usually when enough time has passed for us to see the gift of the circumstances from a new perspective. So do yourself and your writing (and your heart) a favor, and don’t rush your writing through a trying time. You’re already dealing with enough.
Don't Get Hangry
I don’t know about you but food pretty much rules my day. What do I want to eat? When do I want to eat? Have I eaten? Like many people, I can get hangry so it’s not a total shocker that our diet affects our writing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve noticed how easily distracted or just downright irritated I’ve been while writing if I hadn’t had anything to eat within the last few hours. Almost like clockwork, the minute I stop and allow myself a snack or a full meal, my mood and anxiety lift and my writing improves.
And what you eat is just as important as when you eat. Diet affects both our physical and mental health, so nourishing yourself with healthy foods and plenty of water are sure ways to elevate your mood and well-being — and your writing.
Before you berate yourself for being a terrible writer, make sure you’re taking inventory of the five factors above. You might just be hangry or need a change of scenery for the words to start flowing.
Written by: Brianne HoganBrianne Hogan is a freelance writer currently based in Prince Edward Island. A film studies graduate from NYU, her byline's been featured in Creative Screenwriting, ScreenCraft, The Huffington Post, among others. "Jurassic Park" is unashamedly her favorite movie (at this moment). You can follow Brianne on Twitter via @briannehogan