Writer’s block. *insert horror music here and maybe a picture of Jaws* It happens and we deal with it as best we can. Your methods are undoubtedly different than mine so I though I’d share my thoughts on it, thoughts I had while trying to fall asleep for two hours last night. The one might have something to do with the other but I’m wearing my denial hat today so let’s skip that one.
So while trying to fall asleep I thought how apt it is to compare being a writer to being a miner. Or now that I really think about it in the light of day, a prisoner digging a tunnel from his cell to the outside world. Freedom = The End. Yeah, I like this analogy better. Let’s stick with this one(this is not written with a negative vibe at all, despite the comparison I’m drawing here).
So you’re a prisoner, the bars keeping you locked up are the thoughts and ideas that you have to get down into words. You’ll finally be free once you’ve typed the words The End at the end of it all, but unfortunately some of us have to deal with that wonderful obstruction called writer’s block.
There’s nothing that can stop your digging rhythm more than when you suddenly encounter a massive boulder in your path(read writer’s block). Depending how big your boulder is, it’s proportional to the amount of time it’s going to take you to get rid of it or dig your way around it. I once encountered a boulder so big that it took me three weeks to get around it. Those were three very long weeks.
My suggestion for getting around boulders:
Take a step back. Maybe I’ve been too focused on what I working on. Actually, no maybe about it, I am too focused on it. My blocks come in the form of knowing exactly what is supposed to happen, just not finding the right words to get it across. When you have a story to tell but you’re stuck for three weeks, it gets frustrating. So just take a step back, take a breath, and get your head straight.
Work on something else. I highly recommend this. If you’re anything like me, you have a side project or two that you pay attention to every now and then. Maybe being blocked in one project means that you should spend some time with the other one, even if just for a few days.
Just relax, will ya? You’re probably stressed out, it happens. Just about all of us have full-time jobs and we try and squeeze in as much writing time as we can. I take my writing and revisions with me to work and whenever I have free time, I add some words or rewrite/edit what I’m working on. This is something I probably shouldn’t put where a boss can see it, but she’s cool and more importantly, doesn’t read blogs. But I digress. Go take the dogs for a walk, spend the day next to the pool with a good book, sleep late. Whatever. Take some time to just chill out and give your mind time to gather itself again. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t push yourself to finish. The industry isn’t going anywhere and even if you finish, there’s still rewrites, editing, editing, critiquing, and more editing to do. You novel isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Breathe.
Set goals for yourself. I say goals instead of targets because I separate the two in the way that where targets are what I have to achieve, goals are what I want to achieve. It’s not so bad not making your goal as opposed to not making your target, which just sounds worse. Even if you don’t reach the goal you’ve set for yourself, at least you did something and worked toward it. That’s a great feeling.
Stop thinking about it as writer’s block. If you keep on telling yourself that you have writer’s block, you’re going to have it. It’s a state of mind, in my honest opinion. Keep on thinking that you have an itch when you actually don’t, you’ll get one. So stop scratching. Stop it.
Remember why you started writing. Go back to what initially inspired you. Think about all the reason you started writing in the first place. This might be just what you need so take your time doing it. Whatever it was that spurred you in this direction, go and spend time with it.
If it takes you a week or two to dig around your boulder, so be it. You might just come out the other side with so much to write that the only problem you’ll have now is finding the time to get all the words out of your head.
Do you have any advice for getting over writer’s block?