Writer’s Block: The Struggle is Real
Writer's Block: the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.
Writer’s block. We've all been there. Sometimes there is so much you want to say, it's difficult to put it into words. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to begin when there are so many factors within yourself, and in the environment around you, distracting you from your goal. And sometimes the blank page just seems to relentlessly keep us in its clutches. I've been struggling with this lately, so I've researched some ways to help us all out.
Beat Writer’s Block At Its Own Game
The first helpful tip I found suggested writing about writer's block. Ironically enough, it's a good idea. Maybe when you start writing about it, it will open up new avenues and doors in your mind you didn't even know existed. At the very least, you will be writing, and that may make you feel better about the situation. Maya Angelou suggested that if you “just write,” even if what you put on the page is nonsense, you can beat writer’s block. “What I try to do is write…And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay, okay. I’ll come.’”
When it comes to reasons why authors experience word drought, here's a biggie: Fear. Yes, sometimes it can be scary to put yourself out there. What if people hate this? What if I can't make it perfect? What if I never get published? There are a billion questions you can ask yourself that will make it nearly impossible to write. Part of what motivates this fear is the drive for perfection.
Ah, trying to be perfect. This is something that even the greats have to deal with. “If I waited for perfection,” said Margaret Atwood, “I would never write a word.” We are our own worst enemy. I’m sure popular, prize wining writers even have books they do not think are perfect (I should probably read that sentence a few times a day).
The key to overcoming the fear and the need for perfection is to embrace failure as a part of the journey. Many writers, especially new and emerging authors, cling to the limiting belief that failure is a sign that they don’t have what it takes to succeed. In reality, failure is one of our greatest tools. It’s how we learn and grow, how we hone our craft. You know what they say: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Don’t Play the Comparison Game
Don't compare yourself to other writers. Doing that is one of the quickest ways to set off writer’s block. It’s easy to do, I know. I always feel like I'm a bit stunted or that I started too late. You read about professional writers and how they wrote their first book at the age fifteen, and you begin to doubt yourself. You may follow writers on Instagram or Facebook, and they are always posting themselves with a mug of coffee beside their lap top. Clearly, they are writing yet another saga that will blow everyone’s minds. You’re wondering, how can they be writing AGAIN when I can’t even START? Just stop thinking about their lives and start focusing on yours.
You have something worth saying. Your story, your words matter and you don’t need to doubt that. With stories like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings out there, it's easy to believe that all the great ideas are taken. You start to think the only way to create an awesome story is to construct a land with magical creatures who have their own languages, that you also constructed. It’s not true.
While sci-fi and fantasy have a lot of merit, some of the best novels are based on ordinary lives and the struggle of every day life. There aren’t any mystical worlds or anything like that, just people making it through the day. The human struggle is something every person can relate to and it connects us all.
You are a part of the human experience, and you have perspective and insight that no one else on the planet has. So next time you feel the need to hold yourself up to your favorite author, don’t. You already have what you need to be successful. Cultivate it.
Take A Breather
Sometimes writer’s block hits in the midst of a creative endeavor. You have been writing away and have made a ton of progress when suddenly those creative juices just dry up. It is a frustrating experience, to be sure. When it happens, the temptation can be to just put your head down and make a hard push to keep writing. But this isn’t always the best way to get through a mid-project drought. Sometimes the best thing you can do is embrace it and take a big, relaxing breath.
Some things that might jostle some of those creative feelings include taking a walk, reading a book, going for a run, listening to music, changing up your environment, and spending time with someone who makes you feel positive and inspires you. Neil Gaiman suggests putting your writing aside for a few days, then “sit down and read it…as if you’ve never seen it before. Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see anything you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you’ll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are.”
You’ve Got This
Unfortunately, there's not a cure for writer’s block. It pops up, and it's a struggle for every writer. Hopefully, you'll keep fighting the good fight and sharing your stories with the world. So, write every day. Even if it's just a few sentences, write it. Keep those creative juices flowing. I know Chantwood is waiting for your poetry submissions. Maybe you’re working on a book? Do you have a short story submission you could send us in the mean time? We’re waiting, so get to it! I know I will.
Stay posted for more helpful tips and insights from Chantwood Magazine. In the meantime, check out some of our Past Issues for writing inspiration. Thanks for reading!