We’ve heard about it, many complain about it, and others ask for advice on how to overcome it. It is the crutch and the sucker punch of writers everywhere. It’s called writer’s block.
Writer’s block is all in your head. Hold up on the tar and feathers and let me explain. There isn’t just one reason someone might be reluctant to write, but all of them stem from you.
Busy/Don’t have time
Those who say “I just don’t have time.” The adage “if you want to do something bad enough, you’ll find the time” applies here. Writing isn’t about sitting down and writing hours on end. Look into writing sprints. You can write while waiting for the coffeepot to brew, the end to your lunch break, instead of surfing FB or Twitter, DVR your favorite shows and catch them later (like the nights you are exhausted from work or spending time with your loved ones), change the dinner menu to something easier to cook or have your other half/kids cook, and instead of being stuck at the screen, you can use Google Docs or invest in something like Dragon—Dragon is a voice to text program—to make writing anywhere at any time possible.
Writing isn’t something you can put off on someone else—unless you’re hiring a ghostwriter.
I don’t believe a true writer is lazy. They are fearful or lack the tools.
Fear comes in many forms. Perfectionism, living up to previous works, imposter syndrome, expectations, etc. The list can go on.
No writer sprung from their mom fully able to pen an amazing story. It takes time to learn and train your mind to craft a story from start to finish.
Some are so intent on the first draft being perfect that they freeze and stare at the screen with a blank mind. The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s better if it’s not. This isn’t a writer’s block that anyone’s advice can help with. Keep trying because, eventually, you’ll reach a moment where it clicks and the words flow.
You can’t edit a blank page.
Lack of Structure /Lost Plot/Overthinking
For those who pants or those who don’t understand their genre, losing the plot/direction of the story can be a crippling blow that can knock the wind from your sails. Pick up a few books on your genre, look into variations of plotting, reread what you have written so far, and write notes to yourself about what your goal is as you think about it. Write out of order if you need to. Invest in shower crayons (located in the kids’ bath section) to write that idea down while you’re in the shower. Send yourself an email, a text, etc. Don’t believe you’ll remember that cool “twist” because odds are you won’t.
Have you rearranged your office, got a new keyboard, had to change chairs? You’ve disrupted your “zone”. It might take a little while for you to fully adjust to the new change. Keep trying.
Chemical Imbalance/Emotionally Unbalanced/Injured
Writing is as much about muscle training as weight lifting is.
If it’s uncomfortable to sit at the desk or to type on the keyboard, it can cause an aversion to the situation. Who wants to write when they hurt after doing any of it? I injured my back, and I find it difficult to sit at the desk for hours at a time like I used to. I’m having to find alternatives—like Google Docs on my phone.
Sometimes it isn’t a physical aversion but a chemical one. Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep, maybe you’ve changed your diet, or you’ve suffered a loss/added a new child to the house. The list is endless as to why the chemistry and emotions are out of whack.
It’s okay to take a break and live a little; sometimes fresh air and spending time with family and friends can help. Go see the doctor if you need to.
Take care of yourself.
For some, writing is like a diary except the moments aren’t in plain English.
There have been a few times when my writings were read without my okay, and my writing bubble burst. For me, this is the one thing on here that gives me writer’s block.
When I was younger, we had just gotten our first desktop computer (so I was probably 10 or 11—figure 1997-1999 sometime). My dad found my writing, and despite him raving about it—I was writing two stories. The first was a female racecar driver where her garage and car were sabotaged. The second was a western—I was ashamed, and I hide my writing for a long time even trashing it as quickly as I wrote. I’ve had that happen in the last couple of years with my other half.
Those little invasions are hard to overcome. My hands freeze. “What if…” isn’t in full thoughts but a hidden weight, strangling me. It takes a lot for me to beat that monster back into the dark recesses to where it doesn’t have a foothold. The only thing that does is to dust my ego off the ground and keep writing one paragraph at a time.
Small steps lead to the same destination as someone who sprints, so don’t compare your journey to someone else’s.
If you think you have writer’s block write out why you think you do, research ways to overcome it, and keep trying every day, even when you don’t feel like it. Eventually the words will flow, your sense of enjoyment will return, and you’ll complete your writing project.