What stops you writing?

writers blockMy friend Bec Evans is researching the habits of writers.   She’s not interested in whether their beverage of choice might be Earl Grey or espresso (though personally, perhaps because I’m nosy, I always find those details fascinating!  You can find out my preferences for such things in a Quirky Q&A on the Newbooks site here).  Bec’s focus is on issues like motivation, habit and discipline: words which strike fear into the heart of pretty much every writer I know (because – let’s face it – we all aspire to have more of all of those things).

Bec has an insider’s take on these issues: for three years she was Centre Director at Lumb Bank, one of the writing houses owned by Arvon, an organisation which runs residential writing courses for writers both established and aspiring.  Hosting an Arvon course can provide a fascinating insight into what makes writers tick.  However, in January Bec decided to cast her net further afield and ran an online survey (which is still live if you’d like to contribute – and do feel free to share!).  The results are illuminating, but in many ways not that surprising:

  • 68.5% of respondents write at least once a week (17.7% write every day)
  • 83.1% would like to write more frequently
  • Of those wanting to write more frequently, 97% they wanted to write everyday / full time
  • Respondents found it most easy to have ideas and find inspiration
  • They found it most difficult to finish a project and develop a writing practice
  • After lack of time, lack of discipline is a significant barrier to writing regularly (47.6%)
  • Respondents were most inspired by: deadlines (72.6%), encouragement (58.1%), and competitions (33.9%)

What strikes me about these results is the gap between the number of people who would like to write every day or full time but don’t.  A huge majority would like to write more frequently, but don’t.  What stops them?  According to Bec’s poll it would appear to be lack of time and discipline.  These are things I certainly recognise as stumbling blocks in my own writing – past and present – as well as other things.  Fear; lack of confidence; isolation…

In the next few blog posts, I hope to take a closer look at these issues, which Bec is currently working on.  How does having a reflective writing ‘tracker’ affect one’s writing practice?  How can psychological models of behavioural change shed light on creative practice?  So do check back.

And, by the way, Bec’s research is all part of her plan to develop an app which will support writers in their writing practice.  If you want to keep up with her news and join in the conversation, you can follow her here on Twitter (@EvaBec).  Bec has plans to create a website to share her findings and her progress – so do watch this space!

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