Ah, writer’s block. Bane of all creatives, everywhere. Most people are familiar with this term, regardless of whether or not they do any writing, predominantly as it’s endemic to the creative arts. We who toil with paper and pen (or typety-typing and LEDs) do not have a monopoly on lulls of inspiration, but I feel like we complain about it the most. Therefore, this unfortunate state has been named after us.
Today I want to discuss how I approach writer’s block. Ultimately, when we use that term we’re referring to a lack of motivation, inspiration, or insight regarding our creative process that leads to (what we feel to be) suboptimal quality of work. It can be brought on by emotional shifts, recent events, general malaise, or nothing at all.
Most writers, in my experience, stop writing when they feel they’re under the influence of this potent force. Superstitions may come into effect (lucky underwear, fancy pants, special music or food, etc.) or Internet tip sheets may be referenced. There are likely as many tactics to overcome writer’s block as there are writers. Ultimately, however, I want to share a sad truth with you…
Most of them don’t work, or if they do, they don’t work consistently (in my opinion).
Besides writing, I also have a background in psychology (in another life I would have been a psychologist). When we’re dealing with these sorts of creative block, we tend to blame a great many things, hence the great many solutions proffered on the Interwebz. The core cause, however, can always be tracked back to something cognitive, i.e. within your own head.
This does not mean there is something wrong with you, though it may be a sign that some amount of your mind is grappling with something that you feel is wrong (but are trying to avoid). Our minds are fickle things: easily distractible, easily lured into pitfalls, and easily discouraged. Writer’s block, at least in my opinion, tends to reflect something in our minds that is actively pulling mental energy and focus away from creation. Often, it seems to root in personal insecurity, discouragement, or a lack of confidence―often spurred by some life event that you may not have even really noticed.
All of that being said, it doesn’t really matter where it comes from. What matters most is what you do about it. If you feel like your writer’s block is overwhelming, first take a moment to step back and meditate a bit on yourself and your thoughts. Ask yourself “Is anything bothering me? How do I feel right now?” And then―this is the important part―
GO BACK AND WRITE ANYWAY. CREATE ANYWAY. DO IT ANYWAY.
The only surefire way to overcome writer’s block is to keep writing regardless. It doesn’t matter that you believe the writing will be terrible (or that the writing is terrible once it’s down), what matters is that it’s there. Refusing to write/create until the block passes gives the block more power within your mind, building it up until it can seem insurmountable. By writing through it, you subvert that power and the importance of the block in your own cognition, while simultaneously continuing to lay the foundation of your success.
TL;DR – When you write during writer’s block, you teach yourself how to overcome obstacles and continue building toward your goals.
Super TL;DR – Writing through a writer’s block makes you stronger.
This isn’t just my opinion, mind you. There are quite a few terrific authors out there that stand by this approach, too. The most significant thing you must remember for this to work is that every word you write has value. Nothing is wasted. With each letter, you improve.
Don’t let the boogeyman (writer’s block) take that away from you.
What do you do when you have writer’s block? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!
For more of my thoughts, head back to the main page HERE.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!