I want to talk about overcoming affliction for the New Year’s Writing Life post because sometimes, the New Year comes and people don’t seem to see a change in their lives. Everything seems the same. This melancholic view can affect the writing process and then Whamo! Writer’s Block!
Over the holidays, I was struck with writer’s block. All of these ideas kept coming, but I couldn’t get anything out on paper. None of the ideas would form into paragraphs or even lists of concepts. I wrote some phrases down on note cards to describe the ideas to mine them later because I remembered being in this horrible state of imprisonment. I felt trapped by the desire to get the words out and not being able to funnel them onto the page. They ran past me too quickly as I walked like a zombie through my old hallways of the mind, a ghost of letters.
So, because I had responsibilities, I felt guilty and hopeless. I couldn’t do the blog. I felt like a failure for not posting and a jerk for not meeting my obligations. But, I couldn’t give up. My husband wouldn’t let me. My best friend listened to me cry on the phone and tried to help. She did because there was someone who would listen, plus, I couldn’t just rain on her sunny days all the time, so I started writing her little short stories.
I focused on what I could control and wrote my way out of writer’s block. I fought the lethargy and the despair over the blank screen and page and just wrote a bunch of stream of consciousness weirdness. I wrote about how I was hating writer’s block and kept writing.
Find your reason
Then, the a-ha moment came and I discovered what had caused my writer’s block. My doctor had said that writing in this blog was causing me to stress out. She cautioned that I might get sick if the stress became too much. That did it. I was fearful. That was the reason why I could not write. On some subconscious level, I believed that I would get sick if I continued to post and to write. But it wasn’t until I did some free writing about writer’s block that the information came up.
That’s what I mean by writing your way out of writer’s block.
Causes of writer’s block
Common causes of writer’s block are fear of failure, lack of time to write and too many distractions. But you won’t know what your reason for it is until you write through it. Who cares what the reason is, you have work to complete for your teacher or editor, you don’t have time to stress about the reason, right? Well, if you don’t know what the reason is you will not know what to do about it. Take a break from the project for two to three minutes and lose your eyes focusing on your breath. When you finish, open your eyes and reread your thesis or lede. What do you need to say next? You might have already said it.
If you are blocked because you have too many distractions, then cut down on your distractions, go to a private place to write or something. But, going to a private place to write will compound your dilemma if fear of failure is your reason. In that case, you might want to switch to another project for a while. Or, you can do what the guru Lamott suggested in Bird by Bird and try some first drafts that you know will suck. Let them suck as much as possible but it won’t matter because it will be just necessary to write it out.
I cooked. I would start writing and would take a break and cook a delicious meal. I wasn’t writing as much in December as I did in November, but here it is January. Now, the block has retreated back to its cave of despair and disgruntlement. The meals broke up my day into manageable chunks and kept me from being on my tush all day. A man at the newspaper bought an adjustable desk, so part of the time, he stands and the other time sits.
For my blogs, I stopped working on my favorite blog and channeled my creativity into setting up two new blogs. I found that switching to another creative medium like web design allowed my mind to rest. I couldn’t stop writing my novel because I have a February deadline with daily word count goals, but I set a manageable daily goal and tried to stick to that. I have not looked at what I have written too closely. Then, I finished a movie proposal for a script that my husband wrote and wanted to pitch to an agent before the New Year. It was hard to do while blocked, but not impossible.
- Here are 5 ways to cure writer’s block
- What’s your reason for the block? If you can pinpoint it, you can change it. Write about what is affecting you.
- Move around. I got up and cooked every hour or so. Write about what you did. I wrote some recipes.
- Switch up your writing. If you like writing poetry, try writing a commercial. I wrote promotional literature.
- Take a walk. Go outside and get some air. If you can’t go out, bring the outdoors to you. Send away for an indoor herb garden or a fish tank. I planted tomatoes and peppers. They’re growing. Then write about your living breathing friend from nature.
- Catch a writer and listen. I watch some lectures on Authors Publish. Good stuff and some are free. Then, write a piece about what you learned and get that published.
You are not alone.
Blessings and Happy New Year!