If you’re a writer, it’s inevitable that you’ve experienced a condition associated with the above-written words.
No, you are not psycho like Jack Torrance. Well, maybe minutely off (sorry, couldn’t resist). Because, well, you are a writer, and we’re all a little odd. It is what gives us the ability to entertain, bringing joy to readers and authors, alike. But one thing is certain, at some point in your career, you will suffer from a nasty case of normalcy, a.k.a.writer’s block. Not optimal for production, but it happens all of us.
Writer’s block: An infection causing your prose to turn to slop and your creative bone density to decline at an abhorring rate.
You slip under the covers, close your eyes, hoping your dreams will cure it, only to waken from beneath the cloak of a dreamless night. Shit. Frightfully twisting your hair into a knot, you focus on that single web strand dangling and swaying from your ceiling, wondering where the spider went.
Ears tuning into your surroundings, honing in on the sound of your laptop’s deliberate hum from the desk in the corner, taunting you, daring you to get out of bed and open it. And so you do. However, instead of launching your word processor, you innocently click open your browser and find yourself here.
My apologies. Diagnosis: WRITER’S BLOCK!
So now that you’re here, and you know what you’re dealing with, let’s talk about why this common writing affliction is ravaging your creative juices and commandeering your fingertips, typing only crap or nothing at all.
- Timing: Perhaps your ideas are only half-baked and you need a little more time to work them out before writing them down.
- Perfectionism: Your prose needs to be perfect before your fingertips touch a keyboard. (If you’re going for perfect, you’ll never begin.)
- Fear: Many writers frequently struggle with the fear of putting themselves out there for everyone to critique. (Akin to leading a boardroom meeting in your tighty-whities or itty-bitty bikini.)
How do you rid yourself of this creative constipation?
Ahem…a few ideas:
- Get out of the house. Get some fresh air for fuck’s sake. You’re a writer, not a hermit. (I prefer running while listening to music.)
- Eliminate distractions (My crutch: Twitter. I’ve limited myself to checking it only three times during the day and turned off notifications on my iPhone.)
- Create a routine. (I have a set time that I sit down to write daily.)
- Brew some coffee. (Step and repeat.)
- Brainstorm ideas in short sentences. (Not the word magnets on your fridge.)
- Do something to get your blood flowing. (As I mentioned, I prefer running. It clears my mind.)
- Change your environment. (Pull up a chair under a tree or go to a coffee shop in another neighborhood if the weather doesn’t cooperate.)
- Read a book. (I read a shit-ton of books, and give credit to every author that’s spawned another idea, most assuredly improving my writing skills.)
- Write some fun quotes and post them to Twitter for nearly instantaneous feel-good affirmation. (Creating poetry and short stories are great, too. They begin the creative process with an added bonus of a shorter time commitment.)
- Create something other than words. (I paint canvases in acrylics, but there are other creative outlets, like creating short movies, drawing, photography, etc.)
- Listen to music. (Listen to all different genres while you create. It’s amazing what memories and emotions music conjures up in your mind. Music sets the stage for a movie, so why not your prose?)
- Spend time with infectiously funny people. (Laughter relieves stress, allowing you to relax, making room in that imaginative noggin of yours to create something fantabulous.)
- Read some inspiring articles to get you started. (You’re welcome. *wink, wink*)
As you’ve read, the treatment possibilities are endless, but the cure is critical. Try a few of the therapies listed above before attempting the only real cure for overcoming your nasty case of writer’s block. And that, my friend, is to write. But you know that already, we all do. Though, sometimes it’s beneficial to hear it from a stranger on the internet without personal attachments or expectations (i.e. spouse or agent).
Back to the dreaded task at hand… Write anything—a few lines without excuses. It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece; it just needs to be written.
Write for the reason you began writing in the first place: enjoyment (not for your publisher, agent, or nagging significants). Don’t squelch your creativity, aiming for perfection and profitability.
After all, the first draft of anything is shit, right?
Feel comfort in Hemingway’s cozy quote and worry about revisions later.
Overcoming writer’s block is a stubborn rite of passage in any writer’s career. We’ve all been there, and unfortunately, it reeks of a cyclical and pathological nature, repeating it’s vial course of infection throughout a writer’s profession. But knowing what therapies are available can perhaps encourage your creative constipation into remission long enough to write another shining work of shart. I mean, art.
You can, and you will, overcome this. Remember, there is no wrong or right—simply write.