The Myth Formerly Known as Writer’s Block
That headline probably has a few of you scratching your heads so bear with me for a moment while I explain. Writer’s block is one of the biggest myths about writing to have ever spread. If you have ever tried to write a book, I’m sure that you’ve stared at a blank page, cussing and blaming this mythical power. Don’t worry because I have done the same. I have also watched the movies that portray some tortured soul sitting at his desk with stacks of papers littering the whole desk.
Let me ask you a question. If writer’s block were real then how it is that newspaper writers can always manage to finish a story in just an hour or two? Why can professional writers pour words onto paper every single day? The truth is that professional writers understand that you have to put your butt into the chair and write. We don’t have the luxury of making excuses when faced with deadlines that have to be met.
That does not mean that professional writers always write well, but we always write. That’s the trick. No matter how we feel or how unmotivated we are, professional writers understand that we have to sit down and write.
Why You Are Stuck
If you feel that you are suffering from writer’s block then you are really just stuck. There are two reasons why people get stuck when writing.
- They don’t have enough knowledge about the subject.
- They are second-guessing themselves.
When you don’t know enough about the topic in question then it’s going to hamper your ability to write. It’s not some magical power that is holding back the words, but simply a lack of information. Do more research and gather more material in order to overcome this lack of information. Having an outline before you start writing forces you to research the topic beforehand, thereby offsetting this lack of information. It also shows you what you will need to know before you ever write that first word.
With that said, the most common reason that writers get stuck is when they become their own worst critics. That internal editor can be a real pain in the backside! It’s paralyzing, hindering and always negative. Professional writers have trained themselves to turn shut down this annoying inner editor. Just remember that editing is a phase in itself so you should not worry about it while writing your draft. Just focus on writing. When part of you starts to say that it sucks, ignore it and keep writing. Editing recycles garbage and turns it into a masterpiece.
The bottom line is that as a writer you have to understand that there are going to be times when you are not motivated or inspired. These are the most important times because if you just start writing, you will eventually get warmed up and writing gets easier.
How to Get Unstuck
If you are stuck with a blank page staring at you then here are a few tips that should help:
- Find something else to write to warm up your brain. This can be something as simple as a grocery list or an email.
- Start writing continuously for 15 minutes without worrying about anything at all. Just let your creativity flow. Writing is an exercise so this is the equivalent of stretching.
- If you are trying to write a non-fiction book then try your hand at some creative writing. Some people choose fan fiction as their source of creative writing but I personally like to work on a novel for at least 15 minutes every morning to get my creativity flowing.
- Read! Reading is another often overlooked form of stretching for writers. If you are finding it difficult to get started writing in the morning then try reading for 15 minutes before you start.
- Try writing at a different location. Sometimes a change of scenery is exactly what you need.
- Get up and move around. Take a walk or exercise. Do something to get energized!
Stop staring at your blank page and start filling it. That’s the advice that I always give to anyone who asks me how I deal with writer’s block. There is not some magical power that is dedicated to making a writer’s life hell. It falls onto each of us to create our own success.