The Prescription for Fixing Writer’s Block!!! By Guest Writer, Yvonne DiVita
What is writer’s block, anyway? Do you think you have it? Want to know how to get rid of it? Okay, let’s go!
What is writer’s block
Writer’s block is an imaginary symptom of a much bigger problem. Many writers, myself included, blame writer’s block for things that have nothing to do with being “blocked”. Let’s agree that the term writer’s block exists to put the blame on something other than our own lack of imagination. Merriam-Webster defines writer’s block as “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece (I think they mean story).
Wikipedia is kinder – they say it’s “a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown.” Isn’t that nice?
My favorite is this one, from Urban Dictionary – “a consoling phrase to get sympathy from others, who actually don’t give a heck about your editor’s deadline.”
You’re allowed to laugh.
In a more serious vein, writer’s block is real, it can be awful, and it needs to be treated as soon as it rears its ugly head. The first step to achieving that, is understanding if you even have it.
Do you HAVE Writer’s Block?
Do you get up, get coffee, and go sit at your computer to work on your book…and suddenly discover it’s 10:30, with not one word written? You have writer’s block.
Do you write a few paragraphs, take a deep breath, refresh your coffee (or tea, I know, not everyone drinks coffee like I do!), and sit for four hours staring at a blank page…on your monitor. Deep inside you know you’re supposed to do something else, something involving your keyboard, but you can’t think of what it is. You have writer’s block.
Do you take phone calls, answer emails, and play on Facebook for six hours, wondering where the time went; suddenly realizing you were supposed to be finishing chapter six in your book, or writing a new blog post, or creating copy for your book marketing emails? You have writer’s block.
In one simple sentence, if you’re not getting the writing done, regardless of what writing it is, and it’s not because life is interfering (that’s a whole different blog post), it’s because you just don’t know what to write – that’s writer’s block and you need to smash it into pieces, ASAP.
How to Cure Writer’s Block in Three Easy Steps
I have the cure for writer’s block. Let’s look at the three easy steps to smashing writer’s block into a million pieces.
- Review how to determine if you have this disease, first. Sometimes writer’s block is disguised as laziness. All of us get lazy sometimes, it’s nothing to throw a fit over. Life can be overwhelming and complicated, and every now and then a little bit of laziness is the solution to losing your mind vs. protecting your psyche. If laziness has come to visit you, embrace it, take a nap, read a book, pet your dog, watch Stranger Things or The Bachelor, and let it work its way out of your system.
Sometimes writer’s block is disguised as confusion. You’ve reached a certain place in your book or your blog, for instance, and you aren’t sure where to go next. It isn’t that you don’t know what to write, you could write 55000 more words, if you just knew where to put them. This requires outside help. Call a friend. Call your mother. Talk this out with someone who understands you and your book.
If you have determined you’re experiencing writer’s block, move on to task #2.
- Now, think carefully for a few minutes about you, your writing, and where you want it to go. Why are you writing this book (or blog, or whatever)? Is it something you care about, or is it something that was thrust upon you? Take a good half an hour to uncover how you’re feeling about the writing you are (or are not) doing. Take notes. I recommend keeping a diary of sorts where you can both uncover the reason you’re having trouble moving forward with your work, and how often it’s happening. Referring back to your ‘writer’s block diary’ will help you cut it off at the pass, the next time it happens.
I love Robbi’s advice on this very blog from February 2013, “Nurture your creativity and look at your …efforts as a positive experience.” She’s talking blogging, but it works for all writing, IMBO (in my bold opinion, I mean, why be humble?)
- Number three in how to smash writer’s block into a million pieces, involves being kind to yourself. Relax. Taking a day off isn’t going to ruin anything. If you’re already late with the story, another hour or two isn’t going to make the world come to an end. Put your mind on other things – things that are pleasant for you. A walk with your dog. A glass of wine, if it’s after 5:00 and none of that ‘it’s 5:00 somewhere’ stuff. A conversation with a friend or relative, not about writing. Reach out to someone you haven’t chatted with in a bit, and enjoy reconnecting.
Once you turn your attention to something else, the words for the project you’re having trouble with will appear. That’s how life works. It gives you answers when and where you least expect them. By allowing yourself to do something totally different than writing your book, you are sending your brain a signal. A signal that says, “I need a break. Send me the right words to write, later on.” Your brain, of course, will send you the right words when you least expect, and when you aren’t able to write them down.
Regardless of when the right words come, you will have crushed the writer’s block problem, and you will once again be master of your own fate.
As a last bit of advice, when I experience writer’s block I reread old content – a book I’ve written long ago, a few old blog posts, and even old cartoons I’ve saved from the newspaper. You remember the newspaper, right? I no longer get the newspaper, but I still have the cartoons I cut out and sometimes taped to the wall by my desk. All of this invigorates me and reminds me that… I can do this. I might be at a standstill for today, but I’m only in pause mode. My restart is there – waiting for me to hit it!
When Yvonne DiVita isn’t reading science fiction, mystery novels, business development books, or making cookies that she shouldn’t be eating, she’s walking the dog or doing video book reviews and writing posts on Lipsticking.com. “I’ve spent nearly twenty years in communications,” she tells us. “In that time, I’ve run a successful publishing business, a blogging business, and a pet blogger community with its own social media educational conference. I’ve done my fair share of speaking at events and creating content online almost every day! I’m back to my roots writing about writing, and creating ways to inspire women everywhere tell their phenomenal story – and, I’m studying how to live to be 100! Come join me over on Lipsticking.com and The 100+ Life Community.”