Forget what you think you know about writer’s block. Go on. Erase it from your mind. To get to the truth of what writer’s block is, we must first understand what it is not.
Writer’s block isn’t a disease for which you need to take medication, and although it may hinder you, it’s also not a condition that will prevent you from creating your best work.
Now, are you ready for the truth? Take a deep breath.
Writer’s block is all in your mind.
I know; it was difficult for me to hear this as well, but the truth is, we as writers put the resistance in place. We are the reason why our creativity has seemingly stopped flowing. Once we believe that we are experiencing a blockage, it becomes our reality. Law of attraction and all that jazz.
Writing is an art that involves uncertainty, experimentation, and a willingness to delve deep into who we are and our experiences, to craft a story for others to learn from or enjoy. It is mentally challenging and stimulating, requiring lots of thought; sometimes more thought than we’d like to put into it. The process itself can be daunting with all of the writing, editing, and publishing that’s involved (whether it’s a book or a blog). As a result, we as writers throw up a wall, coining it “writer’s block”. This wall shields us from any judgment and gives us an excuse to not hold ourselves accountable. It is a problem that can lead writers to abandon their passion for days, months, or even years. The longer you go without writing, the more difficult it will become to get back into it.
Here is what we should focus on: why do we feel like we need protection? Well, there are several reasons why this could be. I know for me, the main reason is always *fear*.
Fear comes in many forms.
Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success…the list can go on. I will be honest, being a writer is not an easy feat. I, too, have struggled with putting myself and my stories out there for the world to see and critique. I know what it feels like to have no clue where to start, or that my ideas aren’t “perfect”, but I’ve learned that in waiting for this false perfection, I will never write a word. In my opinion, fear is the number one reason why potential writers never become writers. This emotion is powerful and can overwhelm you. The key is to remember that it is all in your mind—don’t feed into your fear.
Other causes for our creative disruption can be:
• Timing: Perhaps your idea needs more thought and simply isn’t ready to be written down yet. Or maybe you’ve lost your way. Don’t fret–it happens to all writers. Your story may have taken an unexpected turn and you’re unsure of where to go next. Don’t let that stop you. Instead, take some time to rethink your story.
• Distractions: If you’re like me, your mind never stops going. Between my family, bills, and other responsibilities, my mind can become a cluttered mess that’s difficult for a story to navigate through. Sometimes, it is easier to put the writing aside, and to take care of whatever is crowding your mind. Free up mind space so that your story has room to flourish.
• Exhaustion: We are all human (in most cases), and as such, we have limits. It’s possible that you’re experiencing a block because your mind needs to rest. Maybe you’ve been slaving away at your story for some time and your body has finally reached a point where it needs to shut down. Go out, watch movies, do whatever you can do give yourself a break for a few days. You’ll find that in doing so, you may come across new ideas for your story.
• Passion has waned: Simply put, you could be bored with your story. After spending so much time crafting and reworking it, the material is just not as interesting anymore. Maybe you just need some time away from it, or it may be the case that this story no longer interests you. If you choose to abandon ship, make sure that it doesn’t become a habit with future projects.
If you feel like this blockage is happening to you, here are a few simple steps to start getting unstuck.
1. First, acknowledge that you are experiencing a block. The first step to getting help is to admit that there is a problem. Until you’ve accepted that this is occurring, there is no way to move on to step two.
2. Next, identify the cause of the problem. As I mentioned above, for me the number one cause of blockage is fear. If that is the case, why am I fearful? Is it because I think I will fail or that my work is not good enough? With these thoughts taking over, my fear has already won before I even got started on my project. Remember, you are only as successful as you allow yourself to be.
3. Continuing with the fear example, remember that it’s presence keeps us safe. If we are fearful, then we must sense danger. With this in mind, I invite you to think about the worst that can happen. If my piece gets rejected, yeah, it stinks, but does that mean I’m a crappy writer? Not at all! Instead, maybe that piece needs more development. Try not to look at rejection or criticism as “failure”, instead see it as a lesson to be learned. Feedback and criticism are necessary for growth.
The key thing to remember is not to fear your fear. Instead, do more of what you’re fearful of in an effort to grow as a writer. In doing so, you’ll have more room to relax and experiment with your ideas without worrying about the limitations your fear has placed upon you.
Now that we have a better understanding of what writer’s block is, let’s look at steps to solve it!
What do you think causes your writer’s block? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
(Featured photo credit: Energepic via pexels.com)