Writer’s Block

Posted by   Luke   |   Categories :   Education


A writer’s muse can be a fickle creature. One day the words pour out almost like a waterfall, but the next day everything is trapped behind a blockade. A dam is built, seemingly overnight, that prevents any meaningful writing. It can last for a few hours or several years. But a torrent of words will eventually come along to sweep the blockage away.

The difference between getting over writer’s block and letting it overpower you is completely within your control, however. There is a “cure” for writer’s block. You must do the thing you think you cannot: you have to write. Keep in mind that no one expects you to write The Next Great Novel at this point. All you need to do is write something. It can be terrible, it can be the worst thing you have ever written. It does not matter. The point is to get the writing part of your brain active again. It may only be a small crack in the dam at first, a trickle of words. But those words will begin to have strength behind them and eventually they will break through the wall.

To understand why writing helps to cure writer’s block, you need to understand what is causing your writer’s block in the first place. For some, it is a simple lack of direction. The sheer amount of possible topics overwhelms you and makes it difficult to start. To prevent this from happening, you can write down a list of everything kicking around in your head to see if anything sparks. Once you have your options laid out, you can narrow them down and move forward with the idea that inspires you most. Others are intimidated by the blank page (or the white screen). Usually, these people are held back by the fear that whatever they write won’t be good enough. Remind yourself that this is only the first draft and you can do as many of them as you want to get it right. Writing is a messy process, but you can’t make something great if you don’t start it at all. There is another group of people whose story gets stalled for one reason or another. When that happens to me, I go back and read over everything I’ve already written to see if it can guide my way forward. I remind myself of what happened when Stephen King was writing The Stand. There were too many people and too many things going on, and he almost abandoned the book. To free himself from his writer’s block, he blew up a bunch of the characters, which solved his problem quite nicely.

If I am really stuck, I will try a writing prompt (right now I like the Wreck this Book series; not everything is a writing activity but it certainly gets my creative juices flowing) to sort of help me along. My goal is never to get a certain amount of words or pages written on any given day; my goal has always been to write every day. Some days I write a lot and other days it feels like pulling teeth. But writing for me is like a muscle—the more I use it, the better and strong I will become.

November 30, 2016