Have you fought with writer’s block?
It sucks, doesn’t it?
Writer’s block is that state when there seems to be no inspiration. Writer’s block is when you wrestle back and forth in your confidence to create and still come up with nothing. Writer’s block is the realization that you have no ideas. Writer’s block is a searching for new words or new ideas and putting only dull words on the paper. Writer’s block can be dangerous in that we start believing that we’ll never have a good story again. Writer’s block is frustrating and maddening. Writer’s block can be blamed on our muse ignoring us, on our chest cold, on our own insecurities or on lies we’ve been told.
Writer’s block comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s fear based. Sometimes it’s energy based. Sometimes we’re just bored with our own ideas.
But these are some ways that you can overcome:
1. Fill your tank. If you’re not writing, you should be reading. Read broadly with as much diversity as you possibly can. Read in our genre and out of your genre. Read poetry and nonfiction. Read constantly.
2. Write anyway. Journal. People watch. Do the morning pages. Just add words. The habit of getting down a little will help you immensely.
3. Don’t equate your lack of productivity with your value. Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in the fact that we’re not writing, that we dig ourselves deeper into a pit of despair. Shake off any dark thoughts about this season. It happens to everyone.
4. Describe an anecdote. Write about anything that happened to you recently. Use the opportunity to write about it as practice. When you’re done, change the setting or characters or specific details to make it more creative. Even if this isn’t a publishable piece, your act of writing will help you grow in confidence.
5. Use a prompt without any expectation of a result. My favorite writing prompts are the first lines from great works of literature. I find that the craftsmanship of the first lines an inspiration. Now, I would never claim them as my own, but it does get my creative juices flowing.
6. Turn off the inner editor. First drafts are supposed to be messy. The editor comes in when you are completely satisfied with the drafting process, not any sooner.
7. Stop comparing yourself to others. This is good advice for all of life. But writers have a tendency to measure their success based on what others are doing. This is a huge mistake. Your creativity is yours alone. Just keep writing and don’t worry about what others are doing.
8. Give your projects breathing room. Put your project aside and come back to it in a month or even longer. We often need the perspective of time to see our art with fresh eyes and have a realistic vision for what needs to be done. Don’t be afraid to wait.
9. Surround yourself with other great art. I believe that art begets art. Listen to creative music. Go to an art museum. Watch high quality films. Your subconscious is hungry for the thoughtful and beautiful. Feed it. At some point, this art will show itself in your writing.
10. Read a writing book. Sometimes we’re blocked because we really don’t know how to do something in our stories. A writing book may help. If you haven’t your own collection of writing books, check out your local library.
Writer’s block is, I believe, just part of a journey of a writer.
Our creativity can move in and out like a tide. We can overcome writer’s block with discipline, practice, low expectations and stepping back into a playful place where we can enjoy writing again.
Our ideas are often organic beings. They are independent organisms of our life. They don’t have a time table nor a calendar. Wait on them. Give them time to stew properly.
Our ideas are never perfect. They require patient sculpting and reshaping. If you can lower your expectations of what they should look like, and ban your inner editor from the drafting stage, you can conquer the perfectionism that often comes with creating.
Our ideas will never be universally loved. Instead of focusing on who won’t like it, focus on who will. Don’t allow your fear of rejection to keep you from working.