Note: This was updated from a previously posted article I wrote to reflect changes in my thoughts.
Awhile back I had a bad case of writer’s block. In fact, it lasted for years. I went from writing every day to not writing anything more than an occasional blog post over on KVGT. Let me tell you, it doesn’t feel good when you don’t think you can do what you’re passionate about or you feel that you’re not good enough to put your work out there. The truth is writer’s block is something that stops many people from writing, but the truth is: WRITER’S BLOCK IS NOT A REAL THING.
That’s right, writer’s block is not real. This isn’t to say that we can’t experience a hard time getting the word on the paper (or computer screen, in most cases), but the myth that there is something holding you back, a true block, is nothing more than pure fiction.
In general, I find there are two reasons that writer’s block creeps up and attaches itself to you. Most of the time it’s a battle between what you need to do and what you want to do, causing a stalemate and nothing getting done, and the other times it’s what is known as Imposter Syndrome, where you feel as if you’re not good enough to be writing these stories and/or publishing them.
So what can you do if you feel that you can’t write?
It’s simple, just write, write, write! The more you write, the better you will get, the more inspired you will feel, and the more confidence you will have in yourself. To get past the initial problem, write anything. Write in a blog, some notes on a story you have been thinking about, or even a letter to a friend, but make sure you are writing.
I know I’m repeating myself here, but I want to make sure that anyone reading this trying to get over their so-called “writer’s block” will get the point!
Now that I’ve acted like a jerk about it, I do have some tips to help you get back into things:
Stop writing when you still have something to say.
Ernest Hemingway said it best in his memoir, A Movable Feast: “I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” This can mean different things to different people, but what it comes down to is always having a place to start the next day.
For some, this may mean ending your daily writing one chapter short of your brain and for others, like myself, it may mean stopping mid-chapter. A few authors even recommend stopping mid-paragraph or mid-sentence!
If you’re stuck because of a personal event going on in your life, write about that!
Keep a personal journal or file on your computer that is secure and you can write whatever you want in it. If you’re going through a heartbreak, death in the family, or any other traumatic event, not only can writing about it help you get back into a normal routine of writing, it can also help you to find some closure in the event. A good option if security is an issue is to use a service such as Google Docs, which stores the file behind your google username and password. Optionally, if you just want to write and don’t care about keeping records, just throw it away or delete it after you’ve got it down.
I know what you’re thinking, you want to WRITE, not READ!
But the truth is reading a favorite book or something that has inspired you in the past can often time give you that kick you need. Alternatively, if you’re looking for new ideas, read out of your genre, or at the very least outside of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be a novel, either, it can be your favorite author’s blog or just some weird news stories.
A favorite choice of mine is actually to go back and play or watch some of the old video games that I grew up with that used to always make me want to write.
Join a writing group.
I put this one last for a reason. Not everyone likes to be social, especially when they don’t have confidence in their writing or themselves, but many people thrive in a setting where they can bounce ideas back and forth, getting instant feedback from like-minded people.
If you are the latter of the two, then joining a writing group may be the best thing you’ve ever done. They’re all over! You’d be amazed at how many are probably in your area, both professional (sponsored) groups and very laid back groups that just do it for the love of writing.
If in-person groups are not your thing, there are countless options online, including one created by yours truly, Writers Helping Writers!
I hope I’ve helped you in your quest to write again. When I was going through my extended fight with “writer’s block”, I read countless posts by people giving tips on how to get rid of it, but none of them helped me because they all were trying to tackle it like a physical block.
Then again, I realize now that the problem was that I was blaming writer’s block for not writing, instead of trying to fight back against it.
What do you think? Do you have any experiences that might help others? Leave a comment below!