This Writer’s Block, It Might Come As A Shock!

typewriter

Writer’s block. The dreaded feelings of terror, despair and hopelessness. The fingers are poised, the cursor is flashing, almost taunting, but nothing happens. You stare at the screen, paralysed. What’s going on? Will I ever break out of this funk? Panic begins to set in as you try desperately to find inspiration. But it’s futile. This ain’t happening. But why? And, more importantly, is there anything I can do about it?

Why you’re struggling is down to you as an individual, and as such, almost impossible to pinpoint, like searching for a needle in the proverbial haystack. But there may be some common reasons why you’re struggling:

Perhaps it’s just the wrong TIME – you have a few ideas, but they’re just not ready to come out, and need a little further development.

Related to this is the idea of getting things PERFECT – you’re not prepared to write stuff that’s second best (in your opinion, at least). Until something is perfect in your mind, you’re won’t put pen-to-paper, or fingers-to-keyboard. As the Canadian writer, poet and essayist Margaret Atwood once said,

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

 

But maybe the biggest thing holding you back is FEAR – fear of embarrassing yourself, scared that your putting your thoughts out there will lay you bare to criticisms from friends (and strangers) and you are just not ready to face that kind of reaction.

fear signSo how to conquer the fear? The first step is admitting that you are afraid of failure. But as soon as you realise and accept failure being a natural stage of any kind of progress, you’ll make progress towards becoming a better writer. Recognise that every failure means you are getting closer to success, and if you can dismiss the notion of humiliation and embarrassment, you will begin to relish the challenge and experience of writing.

Before we consider ways to banish the dreaded ‘Writer’s Block’, let’s look at a few things which definitely won’t help you in the battle!

  • Watching box sets on Netflix.
  • Wallowing in self-pity and refusing to write until ‘inspiration’ strikes. Spoiler: it won’t!
  • Procrastinating, making excuses or finding other stuff that desperately needs doing. You know, sorting the shed, painting the bathroom, stuff you’ve been putting off for a number of years already. It does not need sorting now!

Ok, enough of that. Let’s look at ways in which we can shift the dreaded cloud of doom and rediscover, in all its glory, the things we really want and need to be saying to the world. Some, maybe, all of these might work, or they might not. They may work in combination, or maybe you can just find that one little thing which unlocks the door to writing freedom.

The possibilities are limitless, and the most obvious one is to just write. Anything. Just put down a few words on anything and follow your stream of consciousness. See where it takes you. ‘Out of little acorns’ and all that. Freewrite. Choose a prompt and write – no distractions. You’ll be amazed where it leads you.

Write early in the morning. When you first wake up, your brain is still in ‘Theta mode’, the state your mind is in when you dream. High-quality and inspired writing often happens when you get up and write at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., when distractions are at a minimum and your mind is still in that dream-like state.

Change your environment – go for a walk, a run, a swim. Meet up with friends, spend some time with people who make you feel good. Not only will a change of environment give you different things to see, hear and think about, your body will thank you for getting up off your butt and moving a little (or a lot).

brainstorm wordleRead. Anything. Magazines, books, blogs. Whatever you’re into, free your mind a little and read what other people are writing. It might just give you that spark.

Have a brainstorm. Write down on paper, rather than your computer, any ideas, however wacky, however random. This really helps clear the fog when you’ve got too much going on in your head and can’t see the wood for the trees.

Remove distractions – phone, TV, radio. Anything which takes your attention away from the task at hand. Do you really need to check Facebook right now? Surely that TedTalk can wait till later? If you really need some kind of background noise, put on some classical music, something without words to distract you.

Just try to remember that writer’s block, in so far as it exists at all, is merely a situation, a moment in time. It is not a condition, neither temporary nor long-term, and by definition it goes away the moment you begin writing again.

But if all else fails, let’s take some comfort from Charles Bukowski:

“Writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all!”

 

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