It’s one of the most well known phrases when it comes to writing: writer’s block. You’ve heard it, and probably said it, a hundred times. Because us writing types love to complain and some fool invented a phrase specially made for us when we want an excuse. It’s the one thing we’re supposed to be good at and yet, writers can sometimes be the worst at writing.
According to Dictionary.com writer’s block is “a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work.” Hear that? Temporary! Hallelujah. You can put the violins away now.
Don’t feel too sorry for yourself. Okay, I know I said ‘sympathetic advice’, bear with me, I’m getting there. What I mean is, you don’t have to feel guilty. You aren’t a terrible writer because you’re stuck in a rut. In fact, it’s almost a rite of passage. Wallowing in self pity isn’t going to get the writing done. Take that frustration and use it as a catalyst; a springboard towards inspiration.
“But,” I hear you cry, “I can only write when I’m ‘in the mood’, you know, its just a feeling, I have to be inspired, I can’t force it, it has to happen naturally. It’s an art form, you might not understand…” But oh, I do understand, because I’m 100% sure I’ve said something very similar on multiple occasions. As writer’s we’re forgiven a little bit of pretention and I’m not denying that writing is an art form. Of course, in an ideal world, we would all love to wait until inspiration hits but this isn’t always very practical. And here it comes, that piece of advice that you never wanted: just write. Before you shout at me, I don’t mean sit down and embark on a Dickens-esque novel. Think of it as whatever the writing equivalent of rambling would be. Don’t worry that its not going anywhere. You’ll surprise yourself.
Are you sure that it’s writer’s block or are you finding yourself constantly and conveniently ‘too busy’ to write? Could you humour the small possibility that you are procrastinating? If so, remind yourself why you write, why you started and why you want to carry on. Remind yourself how satisfying it is to read over the words you have written and feel that sense of pride. Remind yourself how cathartic it can be to let your demons flow between pen and paper. Remind yourself that you have something to say and you have a purpose, that may be hiding itself under fear and perfectionism, but a purpose all the same. We are all victims of ourselves sometimes. It’s very easy to convince ourselves that we’re too busy, that we have no time to write, that we want to relax and switch off (especially if writing is not your full time job). There is something that I heard that really hit me; if you’re meant to do this, you will make time. Only you can decide whether that is true for you.
If, like many, you are stuck somewhere between the fear of rejection and the need for commendation, you have to allow yourself to be free from the constrictive nature of outside opinions. Stop writing for other people and start writing for yourself.
If you’ve been working on the same project for a while it’s likely that your inspiration will hit a brick wall at some point (hit the wall, slide down it and puddle at your feet while you desperately try to mop it up). So, create something new. Paint, draw, write something different. There’s a hundred and one ways to be creative. This blog post is being written because my personal writing has hit a bit of a slump so, silver linings. I’m capable of writing, and so are you. Sometimes it takes a little distraction or a change of pace just to nudge your brain into action. Or you could take yourself out of the equation, listen to some music, observe some art, take the pressure off yourself a little and judge… I mean appreciate, somebody else’s work before starting your own. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Find your inspiration. You know better than anybody what works for you.
Okay, I’m off to write. Good luck!
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