writer’s block (noun) : a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work.
My name is Heidi and I am paralyzed by the fear of deadlines. I didn't realize it (or I was in denial) until a few weeks back when I had a startling revelation while commenting on another blog post. Apparently, it terrifies me that my favorite authors’ books are often available for pre-order on Amazon when I know for a fact they are still being written. Deep down, I know once I actually publish something, I will be subject to these kinds of deadlines. This has, I think, led to an extended period of writer’s block.
Writer’s block happens for a variety of reasons, from physical problems to mental blocks to simply trying to do too many things at once. Whatever the cause, it can be incredibly frustrating to know you have a story to tell, yet be unable to tell it.
I wish my fear of deadlines was my only problem. I know I regularly take on more projects than my physical limitations allow and I never seem to get enough sleep. In addition, during the cold, gray months of winter, I often feel like my creativity is hibernating.
So, with Spring scheduled to, well, spring next week, I’d like to share a few suggestions to beat the block.
- Treat writing like it’s your career and schedule yourself to work, preferably at the same time every day. Then, show up.
- Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself permission to write badly.
- Remove as many distractions as possible. Disconnect your computer from the Internet if you have to.
- Set deadlines. If it helps, find a partner and set goals together. It doesn’t have to be another writer; I have a friend who is a painter and we just figured out we both struggle to make our art a priority. We recently agreed to pray for and encourage each other as we try to attain our goals.
- Consider your writing space; make sure your chair is comfortable and your desk is well-lit. If you are struggling at a desk, charge your laptop and go to a coffee shop or head outside to the patio.
- Try writing the old-fashioned way: on a notepad, with a pen or pencil.
- Watch your favorite movie and take notes. Find the lies the characters believe and the black moment. Rewrite the ending.
- Talk over your story with a non-writer friend. Put on your thickest skin and then give your friend permission to give you brutally honest feedback.
- Go for a walk or a run. There's nothing like some fresh air and exercise to get the creative juices flowing. I know a lot of writers who do their best thinking when they're sweating.
- Remind yourself why you write. Read my fellow Ponderer Melissa's recent post and ask yourself the WHY questions.
Above all else, remember that by its very definition, writer’s block is usually temporary. The sun will shine, and the words will come. But, if all else fails, call Writer's Block 9-1-1 or download this free e-book on breaking through 20 Creative Blocks.
Your turn: What do you think causes writer's block? What do you do when you are blocked?