Why Writers Get Writer’s Block
I think I can write. I think I can write. Nope, not today. Yikes! I have writer’s block. Hold on for a minute. Did you know that writer’s block isn’t a medical condition that who can have a doctor subscribe medication to treat it? Actually, it isn’t a disease at all. If anything, it is a mental block a writer imposes onto themselves for a variety of reasons. Consider the following:
- I am stressed, so I can’t write.
- I seem to be writing the same old same, I need something new.
- I have too much on my mind to write.
- I don’t have time to write.
- Nobody will like what I’m writing, so why write?
- My mind is blank.
Whoa! Those are all excuses which you have come to believe are true, they dictate what you think you will be able to write today or tomorrow or next week and fall into one of three categories.
- Perfectionism – When you think everything has to be perfect, you start making excuses not to write. For instance, when you think, “Nobody will like what I’m writing, so why write?”
- Fear of Failure – We all experience fear, but when you let fear get in the way of your accomplishments in writing, you get writer’s block. Often fear of failure is often disguised as stress in my layman’s opinion. Be bold and brave and just write.
- Lack of Time – Okay, you might have me here. Our schedules are all tied up with jobs, family and health issues. But, if writing is important you will set a time to write even if it is only five minutes.
How to Overcome Writer’s Block
So, the first thing to do to get over writer’s block is to acknowledge that it is all in your mind. Yep, it really is. You have the ability to write or you wouldn’t have started your novel or manuscript. That means you have to believe in yourself and forget about making excuses about not being able to write. I know, that is easier said than done.
Let me help you out of this mental writer’s block thing. No, I’m not a psychiatrist or a medical doctor so I’m not giving you that kind of advice. Then again, since writer’s block isn’t a medical condition, a doctor couldn’t prescribe something anyway. Here is my advice on overcoming writer’s block.
- Take a breather. I mean inhale slowly and exhale slowly about ten times. When you do this, think of a place that inspires you. I consider this my mental vacation. As writers we can go anywhere at anytime we want using our imaginations. Use this to overcome writer’s block. After your small mental vacation, write one sentence about where you went in your mind’s eye. Then a second of what your saw. And, then describe what your smelt, who you met etc. Before you know it, you’re writing again. Use this same method when stuck in your novel. Send your character to mental vacation and tap into that.
- Exercise. That means get up and move. Stretch, swim, ride a bike, or walk around the block. Remember that your brain is a muscle. When you stimulate other muscles in exercising your stimulating your brain too.
- Do something else creative. I am a strong believer that creativity breeds creativity. One of our Absolute Authors Dr. Melissa Caudle informed us that when she experiences writer’s block she will play the piano and compose music. She is also an artist so will draw or paint. Usually, these activities give her a break from writing, but as she is composing or painting she is thinking of a scene in her next novel and somehow ideas develop. If you’re not a musician, you can listen to music and dance. If you’re not an artist, there are adult coloring books where you can simply color and be creative. In fact, that is how Dr. Melissa Caudle ended up publishing six adult coloring books. After years she realized she had enough drawings.
- Read. When you read, you become inspired. So, simply escape into another book.
- Look around and find inspiration. Your next sentence is waiting for you to write and the inspiration is likely in front of you. For instance, I have a 1960s lava lamp on my desk that I find inspiration from. How? When I get stuck, I watch the lava part move up and down and start describing it in my mind. Then, I’m unstuck. Also, if I get stuck on naming a character, I’ll look around the room. Once I saw my granddaughter’s bright green glass. That inspired me to name a character after it. Mr. Glass became a name for one of the school teachers. Again, look around your environment for inspiration.
- Use the ABCs to start writing. When stuck on what to write, use the alphabet to your advantage. This is an easy process to get you to start writing again. Let me show you how. This is much like Scatagories. You are going to choose a category such as person, place or things. For the of this example I am going to choose things. More specifically, I am going to use vegetables. So, I start with the letter ‘A’ and write about a vegetable that starts with that letter and try to use three other words that start with the letter ‘A’ in it. Take a look at my first example. A- The asparagus is absolutely awful. Then move to the letter ‘B.’ Broccoli is bitter when butter isn’t put on it. All right, not the most brilliant, but at least I’m writing. Usually I make it to ‘F’ before I go back to writing on my novel. I think this works because it frees your mind to get silly. Carrots are always cute when they are small and crisp. Oh, time to move on. I hope you get the idea.
- Be playful. Sometimes as writers we take ourselves too serious. Have some fun and be a kid again. As crazy as it sounds, playing a board game, or solitaire or Pictionary helps. How? You are using your mind. Personally, I love to play with my grandchildren to overcome writer’s block. We play, Let’s Write a Story. Here are the rules. I have eight grandchildren so it’s easy for me to play. We sit in a circle and one at a time we answer the following questions.
- Who is the story going to be about?
- Where is this person going?
- How are they going to get there?
- What will they see on the way?
- What will they do once they get there?
- Who do they meet?
- What do they do together?
- What is their plan to meet again before they say goodbye?
Once we have answered those questions, I tell the story using their ideas. In fact, we have done it so many times, I now put them into writing and have created a book of their short stories. One day, I’ll publish them.
I hope these help you overcome your writer’s block. If you have a special secret and want to share how you overcome writer’s block, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be happy to add it to the list and give you credit. You can also become a guest blog and write an entire post.