Few subjects get authors more heated than ‘writer’s block’. Some claim that it’s a crippling condition, stoppering their creativity for weeks, sometimes months on end. Others say it’s not even real – and worse, merely an excuse for not settling at the keyboard and pounding some words out.
Is it a thing?
As for my opinion? I’m not sure I love the word ‘block’, as it implies something negative. I think writers often fluctuate between wildly harvesting words, and letting their imaginations have ‘fallow periods’ too. Both are okay – it’s just a natural process.
In short, I believe it’s okay to pause what you’re working on for a while. However, there are other things you can be getting on with while you’re waiting for the muse to strike again…
Why a ‘writer’s block’ can be beneficial
A ‘writer’s block’ provides the chance to:
- Ruminate about what you’re working on. Is it heading in the right direction? Do the words convey what you want them to? If not, what’s the issue? It’s a valuable opportunity to review your progress before continuing.
- Work on something else. You might want to return to that poem you were working on last year, to see if you can salvage something fabulous out of it. Or you could start writing short stories, then send them off to competitions. It all counts, you know.
- Reconnect with the important things in life. Writing’s lovely, but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of your existence. Use the time to meet up with old friends, or take up another hobby. I like to go running, and often find that my best writing ideas happen when I’m out pounding the streets!
How to make it less stressful
Try not to worry if you haven’t written anything for a while. Anxiety is likely to make matters worse.
If it goes on for a while, it makes sense to try to figure out what the root cause might be. Here are just a few:
- Health. If you’re not feeling in tip-top condition (mentally or physically) this’ll impact your creativity. Focus on getting yourself back on track health-wise – this should help. This is the reason I mainline a pile of vitamins every morning, ha!
- Distraction. It’s so easy to get distracted by social media, text messages from friends, jobs around the house and so on. Make time to write each day (or each week, or whatever works for you). That’s your sacrosanct, untouchable time, and even if you only write a few (not very good) words, it all adds up. Remember, it’s better to write something bad, which you can edit later, than nothing at all.
- Fear. Fear is a writer’s worst enemy. It manifests itself as self-doubt, panic, guilt, and much more. I suffer from this one a lot – that feeling that I must be wasting my time, and that I should be making money from copywriting instead. The only way to override it is to ignore that nagging voice inside you, and go for it anyway. Once you start making writing a habit, this fear tends to subside anyway.
Surround yourself with inspiration. Read writing-related magazines, and plenty of books. Write reviews, diary entries, comments on social media posts – whatever takes your fancy. If they’re words, they have value. Be kind with yourself, but also firm. After all, if you want to become an author, you’ll need to progress; and the only way to do that ultimately is to write!