WHAT IS WRITER’S BLOCK?
Writer’s block is an author’s inability to produce writing. They struggle to generate new ideas and material. Although a small percentage of the human population struggle with this phenomenon, the percentage is high among writers. Every writer struggles with writer’s block some way or another in their career.
The difference between a published writer and an amateur one, however, is their perseverance. When writer’s block hits them hard, the former still gets up and creates something, even if it’s not their masterpiece. The latter, however, mopes around the house and questions why the story or message in their head is not in the hands of readers.
If you’re reading this article, chances of you falling into this latter group is high too. You’re here because you can’t produce that short story, novel, movie script, article, or school paper. And you’re scratching your head, wondering why that is.
In this article, we are going to discuss these reasons.
REASONS WHY YOU HAVE WRITER’S BLOCK (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT EACH)
- YOU’RE “WAITING” FOR INSPIRATION
This mindset is the same as a 30-years-old, still living with mom and dad–jobless– “waiting” for the perfect job opportunity to come their way. And nothing happens; No such thing comes while they sit around and “wait” for it.
In terms of writing, no great story is going to come to you as you “wait” for inspiration. Instead, you have to CREATE this great story. So pull out a pen and paper, or your laptop or phone notepad, and start writing. Even if it’s a crappy start, or you trash it after several paragraphs or pages, at least you’re taking your writing by the reins and steering it in your direction. You’re not waiting for great writing to appear on the page, you’re actually making it happen. That’s what we creatives do.
- YOU FELL OUT OF ROUTINE
There was a time when you diligently wrote, at a certain day in the week–or days, for a certain amount of time. However, something drastic may have occurred, in your life, that caused you to put your writing aside. You may have lost a loved one or a pet; you may have gotten ill, minor or severe; you may have moved houses or out of state or country; or you may have switched jobs. All these events, and more, cause us to fall out of routine.
However, that’s not an excuse to stop writing. Instead, CONSCIOUSLY pull back out that notebook of yours, or those files on your computer, and view through your writing again. Start making a habit out of writing again. Note: Habits can take anywhere from two weeks to months to form. According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, it takes an average of two months for a new behavior to become automatic. Therefore, you have to force yourself to write until it becomes routine again.
- YOU’VE HIT ROCK BOTTOM
In fiction writing, “Rock Bottom” is the main character’s lowest point–their “Dark Night of the Soul”. They hit this point due to all the events that have happened thus far, adding up to a not-as-planned outcome. The character then doesn’t know how else to move forward.
And this may be you. You may have hit your rock bottom, and now you’re clueless about your next move. You may have had a breakup or divorce; you may have lost that job promotion opportunity; you may be done connecting with the negative, toxic people in your life, disrupting your routine (number 2 on this list).
However, don’t give up. Use the 5 Second Rule. Count backwards from five (5-4-3-2-1) and get back to your writing. (Read about this 5 Second Rule here.) You can do this!
- YOU’VE LOST INTEREST
It’s common to become interested in something–say, a writing topic–but then fizzle out some time later. An idea may have sparked in your head one day, and you spent the next several days to months working on it. But the more you worked on it, the more you grew tired of it. You’d rather be focussing on something else. This is normal, much like a relationship–it’s interesting and fun during the honeymoon phase because of our love hormones, but the chemicals eventually die down, normalizing the relationship. And that’s your relationship with your writing.
Because of this, you MUST put energy into your writing to get something out of it–again, like a relationship. Heck, put your energy into another piece of writing if no inspiration is coming your way at the moment. (Is this a failed relationship then? Not necessarily.) You can’t expect a great book or relationship if you’re not putting in any work or effort. To do this, designate some time just to write, even if just 5-10 minutes a day, or a 15-minutes session once a week. This minor, but critical, action will change the way you feel about your writing, and you’ll be finishing that manuscript, paper, or script before you even realize it.
- YOU HAVE OTHER OBLIGATIONS
I empathize with those of you who truly have no time to write because you’ve prioritized other things in our life. You may have young children or an ailing parent; you have rent or a mortgage and other bills; you have student loan debts, and so on. Realistically, writing a book and waiting for the book to passively make you income is not going to pay the bills. We have to do other things, aside from writing, in order to make a living. Therefore, you and I have put aside our dreams of becoming a published author, and instead focussed on reality.
This means we can’t join a book club or writing accountability group outside of work (whatever work may be for you). Instead, we have to write and read independently. This means doing some writing prompts on our own, journaling about our day (You can obtain journals from my Shop.), reading to our kids and/or partner, conducting research instead of playing games on our phones, or rising early or staying up late just to write for 10-30 minutes.
- YOU HAVE OTHER GOALS TOO
Did you know that writing is not the only thing writers do? All writers do more than sit in front of their notebooks or computers all day. They may have a full-time job that has nothing to do with writing; they may be obtaining a higher education, teaching courses, creating video content, etc.. These are other goals that a writer has, aside from publishing a piece of writing.
I admit, while attending college to become either a child psychologist or teacher, I didn’t focus on writing. I couldn’t. (And boy was my creative writing terrible as a result.) However, I did do two other things that kept my hopes and dreams alive–read and conduct research. I kept reading books of interest, and I checked out research material or viewed them online whenever possible.
And you can do the same. Instead of focusing on writing, focus on other things that still encourage your writing and creativity to thrive. And make notes of these ideas until you can focus on them.
- YOU MAKE EXCUSES
So you haven’t written in days, months, or even years (that’s me!). That piece of writing you started some time ago is still waiting for you to revisit it. But because you don’t know how else to continue the plot, you’ve stepped away from it. And you make excuses for why you can’t get back to it, such as “I’m too busy with work” or “I’m too busy with the kids”. In actuality, you’re stuck and don’t know how to help yourself. (Read this article to find writing inspiration.)
Like a relationship, your unfinished writing doesn’t care what is happening in your life. It’s also not going to wait around for you to come back to it. It’s going to move on–and by that I mean fade from your head and hands. If you don’t write, you’re going to forget what your story and message to the world are. So stop making excuses and go back and say hi to your writing. You may even find that revisiting could spark new inspiration that changes your writing for the better.
Writer’s block is a phenomenon that hits every writer, one way or another. However, those who strive forward get a work or two (or more) published, while the rest of us can only dream. There are seven reasons why the latter group struggles with writer’s block, but there are ways to combat that. If you fall into this latter group, know that you are not alone in your struggles to write. However, you are the only one who can create your masterpiece. So take out your notebook or computer and start writing that piece today. The world is waiting for you.