The Writer’s Greatest Enemy

Laptop computer and coffee in the gardenIt happens to every writer. It’s inevitable. Your prose has turned to mush, you don’t have a creative bone left in your body, and you want to throw in the towel.

Writer’s block. Every writer struggles with it. But what you do with it is what really matters. Before I write about solutions, though, it’s important to understand the problem.


Common causes of writer’s block

The reasons for your block may vary, but some common ones include:

  • Timing: It’s simply not the right time to write. Your ideas may need to stew a little longer before writing them down.
  • Fear: Many writers struggle with being afraid, with putting their ideas (and themselves) out there for everyone to see and critique. Fear is a major reason some writers never become writers and never fulfill their dreams.
  • Perfectionism: You want everything to be just right before you ever put pen to paper or touch a keyboard. You try to get it perfect in your head and never do, so you never begin.

So how do I vanquish this enemy?

It’s a tough question to answer, and I’m afraid I don’t have a great solution. I’ve personally wrestled with writer’s block on numerous occasions, and each victory looked different.

That’s the thing about writing: it’s an art, not a science. And you’ll have to approach it as such. There is no formulaic fix, no “7 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer Now.”

Well, except for one. But you already know what it is: Start hacking away. Begin trying stuff. Sometimes, the quirkier, the better. The trick is find something that works for you.

Creative solutions to writer’s block

Here are a few ideas to help you work through your creative constipation:

  • Go for a walk or a short drive. I find nothing works better than a ten minutes trip through the garden or along a peaceful waterway.
  • Eliminate distractions. Turn off the radio, television, even your phone if necessary.
  • Do something to get your blood flowing. Stretch, grab a cup of coffee…whatever it takes.
  • Change your environment. If working behind a desk on a computer becomes intimidating, try putting your feet up on a recliner and typing on your laptop.
  • Read a book. Sometimes words and scenarios from other authors can inspire you.
  • Write nonstop with only the ideas of your story or character conversations in mind.
  • Listen to music. Try classical, easy listening, blues or jazz…and mix it up a bit to spark ideas.
  • Relax your mind with a small glass of wine. This is definitely a tension reliever. But don’t finish off the bottle.
  • Start a routine. Many famous writers have daily writing schedules to summon the Muse.
  • Spend time with someone who makes you feel good. A fellow writer, a grandchild, even a puppy.
  • Call an old friend and catch up on each other’s lives.
  • Brainstorm ideas in bullet points or by creating a board on Pinterest.
  • Read some inspiring quotes in books or online to get you started.

The possibilities are endless, but movement is critical. You need to generate momentum to get out of your funk.

Once you start heading in a direction, it’s easier to pick up speed. And before you know it, your block will be a distant memory and you’ll be doing what you once thought impossible. You’ll be writing!

The fail-proof solution

If you’re still not satisfied, you have one last resort, an ace up your sleeve. The silver bullet solution. The fail-proof way to overcome writer’s block is one you already know. In fact, you’ve been avoiding it this whole time, because it’s precisely what you don’t want to hear.

You overcome writer’s block simply by writing. Start somewhere, anywhere. Write a few lines. Say anything. And see what happens. Don’t think about it too much or make any fancy announcements. Just write. It doesn’t need to be eloquent or presentable; it just needs to be written.

And remember…write for the joy of writing. Because you can’t not do it. Don’t try to say or produce anything; just get some words on paper, now. No more excuses or justifications.

You can write. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Just type a few words. They don’t have to be good (all first drafts suck). It just has to be written. Then at least you have something to work on.

If you do this, you’ll get past the hump. I promise. The difference between professional writers and amateurs is this: Both encounter blocks, but one pushes through while the other gets paralyzed.

So get busy. Write like there’s no tomorrow…and when it comes to creativity, don’t let anything stand in your way.

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