Digging Your Way Out of Writer’s Block
“There’s no such thing as writers’ block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.” Terry Pratchett
Ouch, Terry Pratchett. Ouch, ouch!
But, as with many things that are uncomfortable to hear – such as, ‘there’s no such thing as Father Christmas‘ and ‘the tooth fairy is actually your dad‘ – it’s sadly true.
Writer’s block isn’t some mysterious malady, known only to scribes; the literary equivalent of athlete’s foot or tennis elbow.
Being blocked isn’t an inevitable part of the creative process that strikes on a whim.
We have to dig deeper than that to discover the real reason for those times when inspiration just won’t strike and the page remains a terrifying shade of blank.
So, let’s do a little digging today to find out why we sometimes experience the block and more importantly, how to get the words flowing again.
The first thing to ask yourself when you find your writerly well has run dry is:
Do I care enough?
We’ve all had ideas that, in the heady glow of conception / half a bottle of merlot seem like the book that just has to be written.
But in the cold light of the computer glare, that same idea seems flat and uninspired.
Sometimes it can be hard admitting that we got it wrong – that the idea we thought would have us writing till ‘The End’ do us part just isn’t the right match.
Imagine for a second not writing the thing that you’re blocked on.
How does it make you feel?
Do you feel a sweet burst of freedom at the thought, or a jolt of horror.
If you feel the clarion call of freedom, recognise that your block is actually your intuition and act accordingly.
If you feel horror, you need to write this thing, so something else is blocking you.
Let’s try a few more questions to see if we can find out what.
Try asking yourself:
How will writing this make me feel guilty?
Who will it hurt?
What will I be risking?
What obstacles will I need to overcome?
And then boil it all down into this one key question:
What am I afraid of?
I’m willing to bet that in 99.9% of cases, Writer’s Block is actually Writer’s Fear.
Fear of not being good enough.
Fear of being wrong.
Fear of rejection.
If you believe this is true for you, my best advice would be to focus on the journey, rather than the destination.
Stop stressing about what might happen and focus instead upon the pleasure of the writing itself.
The joy of bringing the characters to life.
The sweet satisfaction of knocking the plot into shape.
The incomparable bliss of finally finding just the right words, in just the right order.
What happens next can wait – until it actually happens.
When your inner voice tells you that whatever you write is bound to be crap, agree and write anyway.
There’s so much freedom in allowing yourself to write badly and it’s a great way of beating the block.
When your inner voice tells you that it would be the height of selfishness to spend time on your writing, reassure yourself that pursuing your passion is one of the best examples you can set your kids. And know that you will be a far happier family member, partner and friend when you give yourself the time and space to create.
Unwritten stories can hover around us as clouds of resentment – definitely not something you want to inflict on your loved ones.
And as you start writing, something magical happens – your fears start melting away.
As the super-positive human being W. Clement Stone once said: “Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.”
So, today, take action.
Write that first paragraph.
Write it badly.
But write it anyway.
And then write another…
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Oh the creative process – such a mystical and divine thing – I wrote about this today on my big too. Finding creative inspiration. The hard easy http://bit.ly/1JHI01P
Great post and I love the phrase ‘the hard easy’ – totally agree with what you say. Also love The War of Art…