or The Truth about Writer’s Block
Psst, hey, you. Yes, YOU. Writer Person. You’re going to have to bend in close to hear this one because I’m not supposed to tell you what I’m about to tell you. And if you tell anyone you heard it here I’m obligated to hunt you down and pour coffee on your keyboard.
Well, the real truth is that it doesn’t really exist. Maybe writer’s block is a marketing ploy designed so other professional writers can sell you things. In fact, here’s my cure for writer’s block for you – it’s free.
I know what you’re thinking. “Karen, seriously, then what in the hell do you call that writing dry spell last week where I couldn’t write anything that was worth a damn – or even much of anything at all?”
I call it, yes, I know this sounds a little harsh, self-indulgence. Wait! Before you click off this page, bear with me because there’s some really important stuff here.
We live in a new time when the Internet provides a great forum for writer’s to put their authentic selves out there and every day you spend ‘blocked’ is a day your gifts and talents and world-changing words cannot be shared.
So let’s, just for a moment, look at the idea of writer’s block in a new light.
Writer’s Block isn’t really Romantic
Sure, Hemingway got a great deal of mileage out of creative angst, enough so we often tend to romanticize the ideal of it. But in today’s reality if you stay tortured for more than a few minutes, hundreds of new articles pop up on the net and you’re left out of the fun. Let’s face it, the payoff of tortured is no longer there so let’s dump that romantic notion out right now.
Being a Starving Artist just Plain Sucks
If you’ve ready any history at all, even just the small amount that was forced upon you in grade school, you know that our past is filled with lines of incredible artist/writers who changed the world and the way we think, yet, they hardly made a dime. But today, because of the open forum we call the Internet, there are lots and lots of incredible writers, like you, who are getting their voices out there and the opportunities to also create income while fulfilling your purpose have never been greater. Allowing yourself to stay blocked and starving is a choice, not a given.
You are not Alone
Wikipedia defines writer’s block as the inability of the writer to produce new work. Well, in days gone by when a writer spent years on a novel (I know of what I speak, my first novel was written on a typewriter) and then had to wait years to get an agent, then a publisher, and then to wait even more months and years for it to be released to hear how well it was received, the pressure was stymieing. Years of your hard work and time could go down the toilet if the novel was panned. No wonder writers got stuck because they were always faced with the darkness of their own minds that said, “I could be wasting my time.” But guess what? Now, you can get feedback early and often. On your blog for instance! So, if you’re writing to be read, and you care about how others respond to your writing (you don’t have to care btw), then put it out there and let ‘er rip. Invite the world in – you no longer have to wait for years. You can know right now. In minutes. How liberating is that?
Who has the Time?
Today, as a writer you live and work on the Internet. It’s fast, it’s robust, and it’s great. And it leaves no time for sitting around reveling in the creative anguish of being blocked. Necessity, as they say…there’s nothing like giving yourself a deadline that you have to meet to blow apart “writer’s block.”
We don’t do anything in life if we don’t have a payoff. Your payoff might be money, or indulging your fears, or walling in self-pity or the sympathy of others. Your payoff might even be enjoying the drama of it all – said the writer who threw herself on the bed in anguish. So the trick then, is to dig around a little so you understand what your payoff might be.
Payoff 1. You’re afraid that‘They’ may not like it so your payoff is avoiding potential rejection
I’m not going to define “they” for you because everyone has their own they. But if you get stuck because “they” won ‘t like what you have to say, then I’ll take care of that little ditty for you right now – a lot of people won’t – will not – like your writing and what you have to say. You will be rejected. People may even curse at you. Whew. Now knowing you will absolutely be rejected at some point, you can decide whether you are going to let others control your decisions, or you can buck up and be the writer you were born to be.
Payoff 2. You’re afraid what you have to say is not important enough and if you don’t put it out there, you don’t have to have this confirmed
If you find yourself staring at the flashing computer screen trying to think of those words that are going to change the world and they just don’t come, this isn’t writer’s block, it’s a god complex. Get another profession. You can’t set out to change the world because words that hit the spot in the mind of the reader, is in the mind of the reader, and you NEVER know when, or where, your word, or words, will strike a chord and maybe, just maybe, profoundly affect someone’s life. But the only way to do this is to write, and keep on writing so the people who need to find your words, will. So stop trying to guess if what you’re saying will matter, just put it out there.
Payoff 3. You’re writing because you like the way “I’m a writer” sounds
If you find yourself continually blocked and unable to write ask yourself this – “Do I love to write enough or do I just like saying I’m a writer?” If you have a true and abiding passion for writing you will love it enough to do it even when no one is making you, enough to do it and not just talk about it because it sounds romantic at a party, enough to invite opinion in even when it’s harsh, enough to keep on writing even when “they” don’t like it, enough to do it even when you think what you’re saying is trivial. You write because you have to, not because it sounds good. If you’re doing it because it sounds good it’s not in your heart so of course you’re blocked. If this is true, great! You know it now and then you’re job is to go out and find what your passions truly are.
As a writer, opportunities for you to make a great living writing have never been greater. The Internet is bursting every day with entrepreneurs and companies and people who need fresh, lively, online content.
So if writer’s block isn’t romantic anymore, and it’s no fun, and it’s costing you time and money, and you now understand what your payoff might be, how do you stop the madness?
What Writer’s Block really Is
Writer’s block is not really a block, it’s a message – from you, to you.
It’s a message that often says one of these things:
- Woah self, you need to change direction because you’re off your path. Cure – if this rings true for you then you’ve become sidetracked so reevaluate why you write, why you are writing what you write, and re direct yourself.
- Hey self, stop in the name of all that is holy and decide what your real purpose is so we can get on with it. Cure – if this rings true, you need to dig into your core and revisit your basic purposes for doing what you’re doing (which writing is a part of). Has your purpose changed?
- I’m afraid I’m afraid I’m afraid. Cure – this reason for feeling blocked is very common. You might be afraid of some of the things I wrote about above. To stop being stuck you need to think about what you’re honestly afraid of, own it for what it is (are you afraid of success, lack of success?) and then you can move on.
- OMG, I’m so burnt out. Cure – take a break – then double it. It’s tremendously easy to burn out in today’s faced paced filled with distractions world. You always need more time off than you think you do.
So, next time you find yourself blaming your lack of productive writing on writer’s block, get over that, dig a little digger and see it for the opportunity that it is rather than this grand something that all writer’s must endure, because that my writer friends, is rubbish.
Look for the real reason within yourself and then you’ll be able to move past it and find your own zencopy.
And let’s leave writer’s block in the past, where it should stay.