Writer’s Block, Part 1 (of 2)

Writer’s block is a mindset issue.

Every writer has experienced writer’s block.

And I’ve seen lots of conversation that suggests it is something to overcome, or power through, as though writer’s block is a foe you must conquer.

Writer’s block is a mindset issue.

Every writer has experienced writer’s block. And I’ve seen lots of conversation that suggests it is something to overcome, or power through, as though writer’s block is a foe you must conquer.

What if, instead, you listen? Writer’s block is showing up because it has a message for you.

How do you decipher the message?

Ask yourself: Do I want to write this?

No? Then stop. Let it go. No “shoulding.” Write what inspires you.

Unless you’re writing on assignment to pay your bills. If that’s the case, your answer isn’t really no. It’s a yes because, yes, you want to pay your  bills.  

Yes? Then figure out what you’re struggling.

First, look at the basics:

How are you taking care of yourself?

If you’re tired or hungry or sick, stop and give your body rest or food or whatever else it needs.

How are you filling your creative well?

Writing does require dedication and persistence, but you have to build in time to reset and recharge. Maybe that’s by exploring nature or playing with finger paints. Find something that will get your creative juices flowing.

How are you setting yourself up to be successful?

Do you have an uninterrupted block of time to write? If you’re a plotter, have you worked on an outline? Do you have a playlist running that sets the mood?

Fear:

Most writer’s-block issues are rooted in fear. I love what Elizabeth Gilbert said in Big Magic. The fear never goes away, so she just tells it to scooch over to the passenger seat and buckle up because she’s driving.

One way to drive “with” the fear is to remember WHY you’re writing in the first place. Putting your focus on what’s important to you is a great way to calm the fear.

Also, consider revisiting your definition of success. Can you release expectations and just let yourself write? Putting burdens of earning a dollar amount or garnering X number of reviews can paralyze your creativity. Those ideas of success are reasonable, of course, but save them for when you’re wearing your marketing hat.

Finally, as my friend Marni says, “Out of shit, you get flowers.” Let yourself write badly. The flowers will bloom in later drafts.

Consider creating a ritual to begin each writing process. Maybe you have a special prayer like Steven Pressfield. Or write an affirmation, such as, “I’m a great writer” and post it on your monitor. Listen to a song and dance before you begin. I’m partial to Odetta’s version of “This Little Light of Mine.”

Writer’s block is a part of the writing experience. Learn how to work with it so that you can sustain your writing practice for years to come.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash