Is Writer's Block Real?
The enemy of every writer, lurking around each page like a cobra, when will it strike? Is it real? Or is it just an overblown myth that keeps writers from actually writing?
I figured I might as well address this age-old question as I'm starting to write another book.
What's my answer?
If you're reading this with bloodshot eyes after staring at a blank white screen all night and screamed "YES" in your head or maybe out loud as soon as you saw the title, then you are very familiar with the subject of writer's block.
For those that aren't aware of the term, writer's block is the frustrating feeling of being stuck while in the middle of writing a story, school paper, or really anything that has to do with writing.
Now, time for my honest take, and this may be unpopular to those that feel like they are currently at war with writer's block.
I don't think this phenomenon is as real as we make it out to be.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't feel stuck, or at times, puking in your mouth just thinking about writing. All of that is to be expected, especially when trying to complete a novel.
But to some, they chalk these genuine feelings up as the dreaded writer's block, and they walk away only to never return to the story they dreamed of writing for so long and even started to put on paper.
Honestly, the hardest part of writing a book is the actual act of taking time out of your day/night, sitting your ass down, and doing it!
But, writer's block, is it real?
Not in the ways it has been built up to be. As I said earlier, there will be times of frustration where words are not flowing smoothly, and you feel like you're chucking rocks at the computer.
But again, that's to be expected, so I'm here to tell you that now.
If you feel stuck, I have found two methods to help me get unstuck and prove that writer's block isn't something to fear.
Walk Away, but Not Forever!
Don't let "writer's block" trick you into thinking it's all over, you're a sham, you never had what it takes, and you need to give up.
Those are all bullshit thoughts that will come up, but if you're feeling stuck...get up, don't delete anything you wrote, and do something else for a bit.
If you're on a deadline, make sure it's not too long, but if there isn't any rush, then it can be a few hours or even a few days, but if it's starting to lean into the few days, make sure you force your ass back down into the chair because it's so easy to have a few days turn into a few weeks, months, even years.
My recommendation would be anywhere from a few hours to a day.
So, step away, take a walk and let yourself and the story breathe, then come back to it with a fresh outlook and re-read wherever you stopped. And guys, nine times out of ten as I re-read what I thought was trash only a few hours ago, now has a light shimmer of gold on it...most of the time it's not as bad as you think. Or, you may look at what you wrote, and it's still not looking right, but this time, because your mind is fresh, another idea pops up, and you're off and running once again.
If you come back after a few hours and still feel like your mind is jumbled with thoughts, then I'd say call it a day and sleep on it. Come back in the morning or whenever you can the next day.
When I worked with a NYT bestselling author, I asked him how he handled being stuck, and this was his answer, "I force myself to keep writing."
This answer may cause a few of you to scratch your head, but I tried it for myself.
My deadlines used to be 5,000 words per day, and these had to be quality well-written words...not doo-doo. If they were doo-doo, my editor would send it right back to me and tell me how doo doo I was. So, every day this was my target.
As expected, I would wake up some days and the 5,000 words made me feel like I was with Frodo and Sam on Mount Doom...
The thought of sitting at the computer and trying to write a scene made me want to heap dirt upon my head and wail. But, I remembered my boss's words, and I put it into practice.
And guess what?
I'd force myself to sit at the computer, start to read where I left off, and just write whatever came to mind, and before I knew it, I was 2,000 words in and not slowing down.
The mythical wall shattered.
Sure, I'd have to go back and edit some of those first lines to make them better, but just the momentum those lines created was enough to push me over the other side.
Will this work for everyone?
I'm sure it won't, and I'm sure there are a ton of other methods people use to get over the hump. But, most of the time, it just comes back to sitting your ass down and writing.
I hope this post helps you in your writing journey. I will be giving another update on my novel progress very soon, so stay tuned.
Thank you for reading and let me know some methods you've used to defeat the mythical writer's block.