Writer’s block is a legitimate phenomenon. The term gets thrown around a lot, but quite often, it applies to writing of any kind. Writer’s block refers to a writer’s inability to move forward on a project, but that inability can mean different things. Sometimes our muse doesn’t deliver on inspiration. Sometimes we don’t know how to proceed and we get locked out of our own minds. Sometimes we doubt ourselves as writers, and that doubt turns to fear that freezes us in place.
In my experience, writing exercises are the best remedy for writer’s block. Exercises can help us see ours projects in a new light, and we begin to organize our thoughts so we can move forward. Sometimes, we see the flaws and how to fix them. We might even realize how impossible our task is and let it go for a time while we move onto something else. Writing groups, either online or in the real world, are another great remedy for writer’s block. Talking about your projects with others can be a great way to free yourself. But you have to be willing to try, to shut out your doubts and dive in whether its exercises, writing groups, reorganization, or reading.
This has to be my worst excuse, and I use it more often than I’d like to admit. So I’ll admit it. It goes something like this:
“I just spent 6 weeks editing my manuscript in between marketing and blog posts and reading that paper for my wife. Whew! I’m exhausted and I need a break. I’m just gonna take a night or two off from writing so I can recharge my batteries.”
A night goes by. Then two. Then a week. Oh crap! I haven’t written in a week? Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap… I better get some work done tonight. Oh! But I have that thing! Ah well, tomorrow. For sure, tomorrow!
Guess what happens tomorrow? Pretty much a rehashing of what I just wrote. What I’ve learned over the years is that the rest is sometimes needed. It’s a necessary part of any love. Sometimes, you just need a little time away just to gain some perspective. But the trick is to never really leave. You might be spending your evening watching a movie, but take a few minutes to jot down some notes or do some light reading. It doesn’t have to be long, but it has to be enough to ensure that your thoughts stay fresh. Trust me, those thoughts won’t take long to spoil.
This one’s the worst, and honestly, I have trouble knowing how much control I have over this one. Sometimes my mood just doesn’t cooperate. It might be depression. It might be doubt or a lack of motivation, or maybe it’s all of these things. But when I head into the abyss, I see no end in sight, like a black hole that pulls in all of my creative energy and crushes it into dark matter.
But I remain firm in my belief that choice determines our actions. This is the most difficult part for me, but I’ve escaped from the abyss enough to know that it works. No matter how much you resist it, no matter how little you feel it, you just have to write. For me, it’s a journal. When I feel myself sliding into the depthless maw of the abyss, I begin journaling a couple times a day without worrying about word counts or content. I do this because I know if I stop writing, months might go by before I get back on track. The only way out is to write. If someone knows a better way, I’m all ears, because I know I can’t be the only one.
Ha! And blogging. Blogging also helps because I feel motivated again. Back to work!