Writer’s block: it happens to all of us at some point. The page is blank and so is your mind. You fidget, pace, rearrange your desk, and plod diligently through all the trite (not a typo) and true “tips” for jarring yourself out of the doldrums and back into creative mode and yet, a writer’s block cure remains elusive.
I’ve read (and tried) all of the well-meaning suggestions out there: change your environment, go for a walk, talk to a friend, distract yourself and — here’s the one that bugs me the most — “write through it”.
Ah yes, that old chestnut. In my book, it’s right up there with the premise that if you don’t write every minute of every day for the sheer joy of it, you aren’t a “real” writer. Please don’t let anyone ever tell you that –and if they do, please don’t believe it. I am a real writer. I love to write. But I don’t write every single minute of every single day. Some days I don’t even want to write at all! Does that make me less of a writer? No. It makes me real.
So what do you do when the writing fairy just won’t bless you with any creative pixie dust? You must be true to yourself. Don’t be constrained by some other writer’s exhortation to “write something…anything“ just to get through a slow patch. A writer’s block cure must be specific to the writer!
Consider this: the slow patch may be your personal writing fairy’s way of telling you that your ideas are not yet ready for prime time.
Orson Scott Card once said: “Writer’s block is never solved by forcing oneself to “write through it,” because you haven’t solved the problem that caused your unconscious mind to rebel against the story, so it still won’t work – for you or for the reader.”
Of course, if you are writing for a client and are under deadline, you may not have the luxury of taking some time out to let your creative ideas marinate. Then what? When I am under deadline I rely on one tidbit of knowledge that has the ability to jar me out of a blockage pronto, and it’s this:
Writing, like anything you do, is a job.
Teachers don’t get “teacher’s block”. Your friendly neighborhood police officer doesn’t get “officer’s block”. And as with any job, sometimes you just don’t feel like doing it. The first step in overcoming “block” is embracing this fact.
Some days you just don’t feel like writing.
That’s okay. If you aren’t under a deadline, put it aside. Review what you’ve done so far and see if it makes sense — something you’ve already written may be the key to jolting you out of complacency and into a new groove. But if that doesn’t happen, that’s okay too. Take a break. A writer’s block cure does not happen instantly!
If you are under deadline though — whether it’s your weekly blog post or an article you owe to an editor — you have a job to do. Pull up your big girl (or boy) panties and get going. Don’t whine about lack of ideas — get online and start searching. There are millions, maybe billions, of great ideas whirling around the internet waiting to be written about. Considering your writing a job instead of an art is essential for getting your writing gears moving and producing again. If thinking about it as a job doesn’t work for you, try this: When you were in high school or college and you had a writing assignment due, did you ever NOT turn it in because you didn’t feel inspired? Probably not. You may have felt sluggish, stymied, stupefied or slothful but you had to get it done — so you did. Perhaps your first draft was lackluster, but that’s why you have a first draft. After you read through what you’ve written as Orson Scott Card recommends, you will find that you have a new perspective on your words and more of an ability to be creative with them. Why? Because editing is always easier than writing when you’re in an unproductive mood.
So don’t let that blank page stare you down. Get back to work and find your writer’s block cure now!