Attention Writers: The Myth of Writer’s Block
Writer’s block is the condition we associate with writing and define as writers who lose the ability to produce new work in creative ways, or something that keeps the process of writing flowing in the direction the writer desires. With the Calvin and Hobbes comic in mind, I believe that this is a common misconception, and writer’s block is not what we think it is.
Writer’s Block: What is it Really?
Knowing what a definition is is one thing, but how does this barrier make us feel, and what do we commonly tell ourselves about it? What do we try and do about it, and why are these options usually unsuccessful? There are so many questions we ask ourselves in the moment of writer’s block, and for whatever reason we have no answers, but the answer to why we can’t break the spell is simple. We feel mentally and creatively exhausted, so we tell ourselves we are exhausted, and we can’t switch tracks and enact change because we think there is nothing left. We have used up all of our resources, and the only way to solve the problem is by waiting until we build up more. We are convinced that we have no energy, and therefore no ability to defeat the seemingly undefeatable.
But there is always something left. There must always be something there, hidden and brewing; writer’s block is a figment of our imagination, and only exists if we allow it to. We often say to ourselves, “I can’t come up with anything, I have writer’s block,” and that’s exactly it: it means you’re being blocked by a writer. Instead of thinking of the term to mean something else is blocking us, we need to start thinking that it is ourselves, as writers, who have created these imaginary blockades.
Unlocking the Myth: What to Tell Yourself Now
As mentioned in the previous section, we often tell ourselves that we can’t do something. We find a reason why, turn it into an excuse, and proceed to firmly tell people, “No.” Worst of all, we tell ourselves, “No.” What we need to be doing instead is finding ways to tell ourselves, “Yes.” And this starts out by simply saying, “I can do this.” Sooner or later you’ll realize that you have done this, and you are doing this. You will continue to do this.
Another thing that keeps us from productivity is the escapelessness of time. We’ve found ways to measure it, yes, but in the end it is immeasurable; it is the only thing we never have because it is constantly leaving us. What we need to start thinking is: “The time is now!” Time will not magically give you the chance to build up more energy. If we wait and prolong things to another day, we have only made the mistake of shortening our lives, as we have less experiences to fill it with, less meaning. Less meaning also means a lower impact, and therefore less change. Less progress.
Ask yourself, “If not me, then who?” If you don’t take the time to do it now, who will? Allow the progressiveness of time to fuel you into writing instead of shying away from it. Taking initiative on our own ideas is the only way that other people can come to appreciate them, and we need to take pride in our individual contributions to the community. Altering your perception from believing the issue lies in the external world to seeing it is within you will only help to grow your craft as a writer, and the community with the benefit of a new idea.
Myth Unlocked: What to Do About it
Now that we’ve identified the right attitude, that does not mean we’re ready to start writing immediately. Telling and doing are two different things, and although coaching is important, it requires action. Some helpful tips of what you can do to help make your writing come out clearly and creatively are listed below. They might be the same old tricks you’ve heard before, but then again, perhaps not?
- Switch to a short or small, unrelated task but DON’T put everything aside until another day. You can lose your train of thought, motivation, overall goal, if you wait too long or push these beyond your limits if you try too hard.
- Manage a healthy balance between when you are writing and when you are working on other tasks. One way of doing this is by marking off time-blocks of when you’re working on things in a calendar. Sit down to write even if you have nothing to write about, and this will lessen the onset of writer’s block in future.
- Revisit yesterday’s work the next day. Question it. Mould it.
- Make sure your space is inviting for YOU.
- Eliminate unnecessary distractions, but be sure to involve necessary distractions.
- Knowing how you work is important, so track your progress in relation to time to become more efficient.
- No idea is a bad idea. Save all of your thoughts for later, but keep notes contained to one place so you don’t become disorganized.
- Write about what comes to mind, not necessarily the thing you’re supposed to be writing about. These can come in handy later, too, and often spark a conversation heading toward the right narrative.
- As always, when it comes to writing, a second set of eyes from a trusted, accessible source, or multiple sources, will speak to your work differently than how it spoke through you.
- Most importantly: Remember that the only cause-effect relationship that exists is between you, the idea in your brain, and the paper or screen in front of you.
Ultimately, if you call yourself a writer, then the only thing blocking you from continuing to produce great work is yourself. As long as you keep on practicing your craft, the narratives will write themselves. The ideas are there within you, waiting to be discovered.
More Inspirational Quotes about Writer’s Block
“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” ― Kurt Vonnegut
“Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.
“When words don’t come easy, I make do with silence and find something in nothing.” ― Strider Marcus Jones
“The music lets me see the story but the story doesn’t let me write the words.” ― Elizabeth J. Kolodziej
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” ― Stephen King
What do you think? Leave a comment.