Updated: Mar 6
Dear Genuine Writer,
We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to talk about writer’s block.
Do not panic. Next week, we’ll get back to breaking down story elements. We already covered premise, plot and subplot, and we’ll soon be moving into characters – four whole weeks’ worth of them, since they really are that important to whatever tale you want to tell.
But do you know what else is really important? Being able to write in the first place, which is why we’re switching over to writer’s block real quick.
This means not only addressing what it is, but also listing how to deal with it... actual ways to get over writer’s block.
That way, when you start your story or as you continue writing it, you’ll know what to do when your creativity comes up short.
Which, eventually, it will.
Maybe that last non-header line was too harsh. Maybe you won’t ever experience writer’s block.
But if so, you’ll be in the very small minority if your creativity – or, if you’re a nonfiction writer, your powers of logical progression – don't fail you eventually. That’s why it’s so good to have a list in your back pocket of ways to get over writer’s block.
I speak as someone who went 25 years free of this conundrum. Eventually though, it did hit me.
It hit hard, in fact. For six whole weeks, I had no idea how to proceed with the next installment of my Faerietales series.
It’s not always that dramatic, mind you. But even less-elongated bouts can discourage writers from pursuing their work. Hence the reason why it’s so important to understand what it is and how to cope with it.
A significantly sized annoyance at its best and an intellectually-debilitating, creativity-stifling, soul-crushing state of being at its worst, writer’s block is essentially the bane of any writer’s existence.
It happens any time someone wants to write a fiction or nonfiction; creative, personal or business; short or long manuscript or piece of copy... yet draws a dragged-out blank instead. What should the character do next? What would be the next best point to build on? The answer just won’t come – at least not easily.
Or at least not right away.
We’ll start discussing our list of ways to get past writer’s block on Thursday. For now though, there’s one more part to the definition you need to know.
It does not respect either person or position. So don’t take offense if it targets you.
Writer’s block can strike anyone, anywhere at any time. It doesn't matter if you’ve written seven novels, if you've published 14 best-selling nonfiction works, or if you’re working on your first manuscript ever.
You are not immune.
In the same way, it can happen in the very beginning of your planning phase, while writing the first sentence, halfway through, or as you’re trying to wrap the whole kit and caboodle up.
Writer’s block just happens when it wants to happen and how it wants to happen.
Believe it or not though, none of this is meant to depress you. If anything, take it as encouragement that, if you ever do face this problem:
You’re not alone.
You’re not a failure.
There’s nothing wrong with you long-term.
Your value as a human being isn’t affected.
And again… It’s not the end of the world for you. There are ways to get over writer’s block.
Editor’s Note: Read the next post on writer's block here.