We’ve all been there, right? The desire to write beautiful words completely blocked by a wall of silence to your creativity. Staring at a blank screen and feeling overwhelmed at the task, unable to conjure up a sentence or even a group of words that you’re willing to put together.
Maybe you try anyway but instantly hate everything you produce, convinced it’s awful and your pool of creativity has dried up. The dull feeling of writer’s block is like a big, black cloud that follows you everywhere. The desire to write still pulls but it is obstructed by the thick, mist that clouds your mind.
But what if I said that writer’s block is all in your mind? That it exists as a concept but not necessarily a reality? We don’t need to be inspired to write, we simply write.
I know you’re reading this and rolling your eyes, perhaps even questioning my credentials if I discount the existence of writer’s block, but hear me out.
- This is all in your head:
If you can’t write, it’s because you’re telling yourself you can’t write. You’ve convinced yourself that you can’t do it, for whatever reason, and that is why you’re struggling to get your words out. You’ve given up before you’ve even tried, allowed yourself to be duped by the belief that something greater than you is stopping your creativity. But it isn’t true.
Sometimes when we struggle to finish what we’re writing, it’s because what we’re writing doesn’t work. It could be the scene is off or the dialogue is forced, it isn’t a natural flow of creativity because you’ve approached it in a way that doesn’t suit the story. Not everything we write is going to make the final edit and it may be that you cut out some of your work so that it makes room for something even better.
I’ll give you an example for this. I spent over 4 years writing my first book, I stopped and started many times, convinced at one point I’d never get it written. I had a strong ending in mind and I wrote it before I wrote much of the beginning. There were some scenes that didn’t work, that I couldn’t drive forward so I took a leap of faith and either cut or altered them. I tried new perspectives, new narratives, different scenes, and angles, and eventually, I finished my book.
- Your emotions affect your ability to write
Writing is hard and even more so when you place the expectations of others on yourself. I wonder if the more successful you are, the harder it is to write because now the weight of your readers is added pressure. You become anxious about the quality of your writing, worry over its readability, maybe even tell yourself that only you would find it interesting.
I’ve experienced bouts of anxiety and depression, and this has most certainly affected my writing. This has prolonged my current book project because there were days when I just couldn’t look at it. It felt like a steep mountain to climb and I was ill-equipped for the journey. Sometimes it took all my strength just to read it through and allow myself to like it, and like it enough to want to add to it.
When we’re in a low mood, writing may seem like the last thing we want to do but I say write anyway. Maybe don’t stick to a particular structure, free-write instead and let your thoughts pour out. Don’t focus on the spelling or grammar or whether it makes sense, just write anyway and let your subconscious take over.
As someone who has always turned to writing for comfort, when I feel the early signs of anxiety stepping in then I know it’s time for me to write in my journal. I know I have to express myself because my thoughts become erratic and this mind chaos affects my moods. I don’t have time for that, but I make time to write and literally write anything because this is how I help myself.
- You can overcome this period of inactivity –
Commit to writing daily, even if it is just a sentence about what you ate that day. I like to think of writing as a muscle we have to exercise daily to keep it in working order. When we feel the pressure to produce, we begin to shut down and resist. When this happens, I think it is better to switch projects, to change what you’re writing rather than stopping altogether. Give yourself something else to think and write about, rather than sit at a screen and take no action.
Writing exercises and prompts will help you get back into the creative zone, even if you create something you will never use or perhaps don’t like. The point is that you write. If you journal, practice writing for ten minutes before bed, use this opportunity to summarise your day, your feelings, your thoughts, whatever you have on your mind.
- You are what you think.
If you tell yourself you can’t write because you have writer’s block, then, of course, you won’t be able to write. Our thoughts are powerful. Assigning yourself to a negative thought early-on is the same as giving up on the possibility of a positive thought. Instead, tell yourself that you’re going to write a sentence today as a minimum, and tell yourself it’s going to be a good effort. Affirm that over and over in your head until you feel it making changes and your mindset shifts. Program your mind to winning thoughts, visualise the feeling you’ll have when you finish writing that blog post or book, and hold onto it as you begin to type.
And if all else fails? Put down your pen, close your laptop, and read a book instead.
Whether you’re planning on writing a book, developing your blog or just want to build your confidence in your writing, get in touch with me for a free 20-minute consultation