The past few weeks for me have been a bit rough. Between the computer issues and other distractions I had a tough time writing. I haven’t even worked on a short story in about two or three weeks. I also realized that part of the problem was the dreaded Writer’s Block (cue dramatic music.)
Writer’s Block is a condition that crops up when we can’t think of anything to write. Usually, the cause is one of the below issues. (*This is not an exhaustive list)
- Too many distractions
- Emotional or mental issues (death of a loved one, too much stress, lack of self-esteem)
- Trying to push the story in a direction it doesn’t want to go
- We are writing something that is not true to who we are
I have found that when I’m honest with myself about why I’m blocked, I tend to be able to come up with a quick solution.
For too many distractions, one should sit down and make a list of all of the things going on around them. This list should include daily tasks, the schedules of other people in your household, t.v. shows, what you spend time doing on the internet, etc…
Next take a good hard look at the list and decide what needs to go. Back in December when I started pursuing my writing fully, t.v. was a distraction. I could easily sit in front of the idiot box and watch reruns of NCIS, House and Law & Order all day. I decided that these shows were not as important as my new job and learned not to even turn on the t.v. during the day. As far as the Internet, I do not go to Facebook, Twitter or Linked In until after I’ve spent at least four hours writing and/or researching, and definitely no games until evening. Discipline is the key to removing distractions.
When it comes to Emotional and Mental issues, this is harder to deal with (as I am finding out.) To handle this, you generally have to confront whatever it is that is blocking you. What I’ve chosen to do in my case is to sit down and write about what ‘s bothering me. It doesn’t have to make sense or be clear to anyone else (especially since no one else will read it), but I do have to get it all off my chest. In doing this exercise, I’ve found I’m able to confront my issues as well as find a solution to them.
Now please understand, I am not saying that all emotional and mental issues can be handled this easily. But it is a very good idea to address them rather than sweep them under the rug. If they are severe, talk to a friend or get help. There’s no shame in this.
As for the third reason that I listed, most writers of fiction actually understand that the story has a life and mind of its own. If we attempt to force our will on the story, our muses will pack up and go on holiday to Bermuda. We are the writer; however, we have to remember, that the story will tell itself. I know that sounds like mystical mumbo-jumbo, however, it’s true. Sit down and just let your fingers fly over the keyboard as the story expresses itself. If it wants to be a teenager with purple hair, a nose ring and a tattoo, let it.
Last but not least, is the reason that I couldn’t write anything successfully for about ten years. If we are not true to the voice inside of us, we are not going to be able to write. I tried writing what I thought other people expected and that caused more frustration than trying to open a child proof container. Now that I am writing what’s really in me, I find that the writing flows easier.
Understand that Writer’s Block does happen and that when it does, it’s always best to confront it head on and deal with it, than to wallow.