How Can I Overcome Writer’s Block?
Writers in my workshop often ask this question. Sometimes my first reaction is, “Oh, how am I going to answer that? I don’t get writer’s block.” But, I’m not being honest with myself: I have writer’s block so badly it can take up all the space inside my brain.
This particular daemon is the inner voice yelling, “Your writing isn’t important. You should be working, making more money, cleaning your house, spending time with your friends and boyfriend. No one cares if you never finish your writing.”
Do you have a similar nag living inside you?
Baby Steps Toward Developing a Regular Writing Practice
When these types of thoughts creep in, I have to take my own advice: We are all storytellers and our stories need to be told. It doesn’t matter what kind of childhood you had, what ethnicity or gender you are, or what your current economic status is: you don’t need to justify your reason for telling your story.
If not writing makes you grumpy, then write you must. Yes, the bills must be paid and we all need a clear path to our beds, but having a perfectly clean house can wait. There are times when the people close to us will have to accept they won’t see us as much. They will see happier versions of us the next time we’re together.
Lately, here’s what I say to that nasty voice inside my head, “Thanks, bud, for trying to make me conform to some kind of set of expectations I probably formed in childhood, but I can handle it from here.” At least, this is how I’m handling it now, and admittedly, this is a recent development. Even writing this blog is a sign I’m giving myself time to write.
Give Yourself Credit For Every Bit of Writing You Do
Right now I’m also working on a big idea—a book, a series, a TV series; I’m not even sure yet what it will be. When an idea like this is percolating, mostly I’m taking notes on characters and settings. This sloshing around of ideas is important. It’s part of writing. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for all the different aspects of writing we do, and this can turn into a punitive cycle that only slows us down even more.
I’m not advocating living in a pigsty or ditching your job if you have no savings. I am recommending a type of self-preservation similar to putting the oxygen mask on yourself before your child in an airplane losing air. Writing is our oxygen, which makes not writing like not breathing.
Every day, or every couple of days—whatever type of writer you are—put a muzzle on that discouraging voice inside you and give yourself permission to write. That voice will probably never go away entirely but you can make it give you just enough time to accomplish something. Escape to a place without distractions or to a setting where you can be among other writers who fully support you. I’ll keep working on doing the same, and I’ll report back soon on how I’m doing.
What do you do to keep your doubts from holding you back?