The DREADED Writer's Block and How To Overcome It
by Yvonne DiVita, Book Coach, Author Advisor, Avid Reader
It can strike at any moment, any second, any day or week…
even in the middle of a paragraph of fantastic ❗❗❗ writing!
You’re sitting there at your desk, your fingers are sailing over the keyboard like water over a stone, smooth and flowing. You’re in the zone. 😊
The day has gone by without notice as you compose that amazing chapter of your book, that astounding blog post, that outstanding dedication, whatever it is you're writing today. You don’t notice the shadows coming through the blinds, trying to nudge your brain to take a break.
It is late afternoon and you’ve been at it since 5 a.m. How glorious! You're on fire! 🔥🔥🔥
You’re intent. Focused. You know what you need to do. You have your schedule for the day and you’re close to completing your top 3 tasks… all of which involve writing, writing, writing; or, shall we say, creating, creating, creating.
And then… suddenly, a long shadow drops onto the computer monitor...
almost with a snicker… yes, you can hear it snicker at you... and you pause…you lick your lips. You sigh. You’re in the middle of a sentence, by god! The middle of a @#$#%^ sentence! And you’re stuck. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck. 😦☹🙁
How can this be? How is this happening? The shadows are now so deep you wonder if it's midnight. You haven't turned a light on, because you the light from the computer monitor has been fine, till now.
But now, it's mocking you! It's glaring at you. "You think you're a writer!" it says. 👿
You back away from the computer, and even the wheels on your chair rebel… sticking to the floor or rug or whatever, as if to say, “You're not a writer. A real writer doesn't have writer's block!"
I have to write, you think desperately. I have to keep going. ✍🏻
But, “I can’t. I can’t. I’m… lost!” you exclaim out loud, throwing your hands up, pulling your hair out, biting your lip. 😠
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Writer’s block is a normal part of the writing process. Even when it happens as described here, in the middle of a project, as opposed to the beginning of one (and the beginning can be scary, I know, with lots of worries and expectations and… the belief that you bit off more than you can chew… that you’ll never finish, or if you do, it will be *crap*!), you can deal with it professionally. As a writer. ✅
Before giving in to despair, and certainly before you delete everything you've written because it's so horrible - it must be horrible if you can't even finish it! - take a break and try these suggestions:
- Walk away for a bit. Stop thinking about the task. Have a cup of tea. Pet the cat. Look out the window and appreciate your backyard. Just take your mind off of it – for a half hour or a whole day. Whatever is needed. De-stress and get back in the zone. 🚶🏻♀️
- Call a friend. See how she’s doing. Ask her if she needs to talk. Share insights with her. Focus on her needs. Give her your time, openly and willingly. 📱
- Go back to the beginning and read the first chapter, paragraph, or introduction of your work. Refresh by reminding yourself what the project is for. It should be for the reader, not for you. 📖
- Ask a few select members of the readership’s audience questions about the topic. Make them questions about your block (not that you are blocked, but about the topic… to help you refocus). They must be people you trust and they must be willing to be honest. No Moms or other relatives. (If you're brave, ask on LinkedIn.) 🙆🏻♀️
- Read a newspaper.(yes, there are still newspapers to read - online or in print. Going to the local store to pick up a print edition of your local publication might be just the think you need). 📰
- Read a book – ooh – read a comic book! Just read. Read for enjoyment. Take your mind to a place of peace. 🧝🏻♀️🧝🏻♂️
- Take a shower. I have it on good authority that we get our best insights and ideas, in the shower. Not me. I sing country western songs in the shower - aren't you glad you don't live next door? - but lots of other people purport to solve all the world’s problems in the shower. 🚿
- Cook. Make lunch or dinner or that mouth watering dessert you saw on Pinterest, six days ago when you were taking time to relax. (don’t forget to share – I get writer’s block, too. Send me cheesecake.) 👨🏻🍳
- Read blogs. Find your favorites, perhaps on the topic you’re struggling with, and read. Comment. Engage. Leave a comment and share your funtastic ways to defeat writer’s block. 💻
- Go to the library. Remember those? They're buildings full of books. You can even take a few home, if you have a library card. I used to read 6-7 books a week, as a kid. I went to the library (walked there, 2 miles, uphill both ways), on my own, browsed the latest novels, and trudged home with all 7 in my arms. They sustained me through a troubled youth. 📚
If your town no longer has a library, more’s the pity. You’ll have to trek downtown, I guess. Most cities still have them, I think. I hope. I really hope most cities still have them. Because, in a library, surrounded by the smell of books, the essence of books, the very necessity of tomes and more tomes…and more tomes… you will feel at home and your creative juices will start flowing.
- Rearrange a room in your house. Yes, this is MY favorite activity. I used to do it when the children were at school, just to see the confusion on their faces when they arrived home late in the afternoon, unsure of what was ‘different’. 🏡
What fun is it if you don’t introduce a sliver of mystery in their little heads? “MOM! Why did you rearrange the cupboards again?” “What? What are you talking about. They’ve always been that way.” snicker
- Do something out of the ordinary. Go to a movie, in the middle of the day. Visit a coffee shop and engage someone new in conversation. Visit a museum. Just do something you wouldn't normally do. 🎢
Writer’s block plagues most writers at one point or another. None of us are safe from it. Treat it as you would any distraction – as a problem that has a beginning and an end. A problem you can control. A problem that can, and should, inspire you to true greatness.
If all else fails, eat chocolate. Or popcorn. Comfort food will help you calm your fears, which likely led to the writer’s block in the first place. 🍰
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