Calling writer’s block problematic would be an understatement. A severe case of ‘the block’ can derail your momentum and disrupt your progress. There’s nothing a medical professional can do for you either. Some cases of ‘the block’ clear up on their own, while other writers suffer symptoms for years and their novels suffer. The ambitious writer cannot accept the reality of writer’s block because there’s truly no greater obstacle to improvement. I used to catch ‘the block’ every once in a while, especially when I just started out, but I discovered a solution to alleviate the symptoms. Best of all, this medicine is fun to take.
First, let me explain the circumstances that lead to a writer catching ‘the block.’ Writers are introspective creatures. We experience rich inner worlds, commentaries, and interesting perspectives. Writer’s block usually flares up when a writer feels a lack of confidence. ‘The block’ is instigated by fear. We want to write but something stops us unconsciously. Fear literally blocks out our creativity like noxious smog blocking out the sun. Fear is nothing to be ashamed of. To be human is to be afraid, and many things can frighten us, ranging from death to being a failure of a writer.
First off, if you write you’re not failing as a writer. Maybe you received a harsh critique that took the wind out of your sails. Perhaps you sent out twenty queries and didn’t get any requests for partials. Your family doesn’t believe in you, they don’t understand why you’re trying to win the lottery by writing a book. You can’t sell a short story. I hear all of those, because I’ve experienced them all, and let me tell you that it’s all bullshit. You write? You’re a successful writer. There’s no point talking of failure in terms of commercial success, especially when you’re new, and when you’ve been at it a long time, pride in your commitment becomes even more important. The only writer who fails is the writer who sets down their pen, closes their computer, and gives up.
I never suffer from Writer’s Block anymore. I always have something to write when I sit down at my computer, and part of that is momentum, which I’ll discuss in another article. However, I suffered from Writer’s Block in the past and I found a simple solution. Write something silly. Don’t try to write something great, don’t write the next great American novel, don’t write your magnum opus. Just write something silly.
If writer’s block comes from fear, humour can obliterate that fear. Lift the pressure on yourself, writers are often guilty of criticizing their work and talent, so allow yourself some time to play. Write a scene about a sentient watermelon trying to be king. The important thing is to not take what you write seriously. Don’t be critical as your compose your words. Just let the silly out and enjoy the sensation of writing. Be ridiculous, be off the wall, be irreverent, and the only rule is you’re not allowed to take it seriously. You’re allowed to take a break from being hard on yourself. Just have some fun.
If you’re working on unblocking a novel, I recommend writing a silly scene with your characters. Take your grim, no nonsense hero and place him behind the counter of an antique shop, selling porcelain figurines to customers. Choose your own scenario, but make the setting and scene outrageous. After writing a silly scene you’ll feel equipped to move on with writing the novel.
Writing a silly scene tells the subconscious that we’re okay and helps us move forward. The pressure lifts, the self judgement fades, the internal editor falls silent, and you’re free to get back to doing what you do best.
Please drop in the comments and share your solutions to writer’s block. Follow for most advice from a daily discovery writer. Happy writing!