The writing process seems easy enough when we talk about it. Writers get inspired. Writers write. Writers rewrite. Writers polish. Then bam. There we have it. Finished art. A masterpiece.
Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as that.
Most writers run into a villain: Writer’s Block. You see, my entire life I’ve used the term ‘writer’s block’ as a form of sanctuary. It is a safe place for me to continue my already looming procrastination habits.
You can’t think of the next plot point? Writer’s block.
You can’t think of a good title? Writer’s block.
You’re not sure how to start the first line of the first chapter? Writer’s block.
Now, I know we’re not all the same. Not everyone is a procrastinator like me (even though some of you are and won’t admit it), I am going to give you some simple solutions on how to ever-so-politely murder the hell out of your procrastination-- I mean-- writer’s block.
First, step away from your writing. Put down your pen. Close your laptop. Surrender.
The next step is very important, and, often times, this is where people mess up in their creative process. Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t turn on the TV. Don’t call up your folks on the phone. Don’t go play a game. When you do these things, other people’s ideas are going to start pouring into your mind. And you’ll either be doing one of two things: You’ll either lose yourself in another reality, further procrastinating on your own ideas, OR you’ll just be leaning against the ideas of other things that are already great successes. In my book, that’s kind of cheating.
So, here is what you SHOULD do. Turn off your phone, and do something that you enjoy. Bake something. Play the piano. Dance around your home. Do the dishes. Take a shower. Brew some tea or coffee. Go for a walk. Pick up a leaf. Breath in some fresh air. Sit on the porch. Soak in the tub. Just take a little while to really mull over your own ideas without the cloudiness of someone else’s opinion.
Writing is best done when it’s just you and the character’s voice in your head. So, stop letting writer’s block get in the way and really listen to the story happening inside your head.
Now, once you’ve had a little time for yourself, the next step is also extremely important. Take a deep breath, and sit back down to write again.
When you start to write this time, don’t care about how bad your writing is. Just write it. Allow yourself to suck. Write, write, write. Don’t rewrite yourself. Don’t say, “Oh, this is horrible. I have to erase it all. I can’t let anyone see this. Oh, no. What would people think if they saw this writing come from my fingertips. Oh, dear.” Just shut that off. You will never get to the end of a piece if you’re worried about it being perfect on the first draft. You must force yourself to take the ideas you’ve been mulling over, and give them a chance to blossom on the paper.
I don’t care how much you write for. Go for as long as you can. Even if it is only a page or a sentence or a word. Write with a fever. Once you feel yourself starting to feel “blocked” again, step away from your work and repeat the process.
I do not believe in writer’s block, but I do believe in not being prepared to write. I do think that we can procrastinate so much that we created a horrible beast that we use as a trick when we can’t focus enough to write. Writer’s block is a dirty, made-up monster. The easiest way to combat it is to write. Write messy sentences and defeat your writer’s block.
It’s the only way.
I hope this helps in your writing endeavors. How do you combat writer’s block? Let us know in the comments.