How to Conquer Writer's Block
Updated: Sep 1, 2018
I have a secret. Writer’s Block doesn’t exist. Sorry to have to break it to you.
Honestly, I’m being a bit flippant. Of course Writer’s Block is A Thing, but just not in the way most people think it is. There is no real evidence that Writer’s Block exists as anything beyond a psychological thing people like to blame their lack of progress on.
“I can’t write this chapter. I have Writer’s Block!”
“I’d get this book done if I could ever get past this Writer’s Block!”
“I’m so blocked! The juices just aren’t flowing!”
Some writers think because they sit down and five thousand words don’t immediately flow out of them, it means they’re blocked. Or worse: that they’re bad writers. No!
A lot of people say writing is like a faucet. The water flows and sometimes it doesn’t. Well, that’s true, but I guarantee you have control of that handle. Some days you can turn that faucet on full blast. Other days, you might struggle to get a few drops out. But you can still get that water to flow.
Don’t worry! There are strategies.
Just like writing can be a faucet, your creativity is a well. It’s not an infinite source! Sometimes you gotta fill the well. You can read books, watch a good TV show, or do something else creative that you love, like painting or playing music. Sometimes you’re “blocked” because your well is empty. You have to give yourself permission to fill it.
But, if your well is full but you’re struggling with the faucet handle, then what do you do? Make yourself do it. Seriously. Just go at the page. Write anything, whether it has to do with your story or not. For me, I’ll stare at the flashing cursor for hours and produce nothing. But when I get just one sentence out, suddenly that faucet isn’t so rusty anymore.
There are other ways. For example, having one place or one time of day that you write and do nothing else. Train your brain that when you’re there, you’re writing. The juices will flow much easier. However, having that in our busy lives can be a luxury.
So, do what Neil Gaiman says to do: sit in your boredom. This is my favourite piece of advice. Basically, you give yourself an hour (or whatever) to write and nothing else. If you’re not writing, you’re staring at a blank wall. (And it should be blank.) No social media, no paperwork, no catching up on your email. You’re either writing or doing nothing. Eventually, Neil Gaiman says, writing will become a welcome alternative.
Do you have a question you’d like answered? Shoot me an email!
In addition to running the OWC, I am a freelance editor and writing coach. Check out my website if you're interested in learning more!