How to Unblock Writer's Block
I’ve come to the conclusion that writer’s block is a heap of shit.
I know a few writers, and if there is anyone in the world capable of coming up with a diagnosis as to why we couldn’t produce something, and articulate that quite eloquently, believe me, it’s us.
Sure, I think we do lose our flow every once in a while. But when I realized I had allowed myself to go four whole months without writing only to blame it on “writer’s block”, I knew my dance with the devil had come to an end.
I had to ask myself, “Why aren’t I really writing?”
I knew I was capable of doing some pretty amazing things with words. People had reached out to me about how deeply some of the things I said resonated with them. That was an awesome feeling. But I hadn’t had that feeling for a long time and I wanted it back.
So I sat and mapped out the next 3 months of my writing. I felt like a Jenny Craig eating coach making meal plans for a client.
That’s when I realized that maybe; writing is just like a meal plan. It certainly requires the discipline to plan and follow it.
I had to look at the target areas. Was I looking to eat less calories? Was I looking for foods that had fibre? Foods that would be good before or after an exercise? In other words, what was the purpose of my writing?
One of the greatest writers I know once said to me, “I write a lot better when I care.” Upon hearing these words, I thought to only write about things I cared deeply for. But when I did an inventory of the things I cared for, I realized the list was quite short, and quite repetitive, phrased differently each time of course.
The thing is, as a writer, whether you write poems, songs, blogs, or books, you’re going to have to get comfortable writing about things you couldn’t care less for. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it forces us to write. But it’s a curse because, well, it forces us to write.
I realized that the only way to beat writer’s block is to charge through it like a Spartan.
In the same way that the eating coach’s client would have to be realistic about how frequently they could exercise, we have to be realistic about how frequently we will be able to write. After thinking of school, work, sleep, and all the other not-so-exciting things that transpire in my life, I concluded that I should be able to write and post something at least once a week.
Here are some tips for kicking writer’s block in the gut:
1. Write in bulk.
Whenever I feel my creative juices flowing through my body straight to my fingertips, I try and write as much as I can. Sometimes, that means writing three posts at once, only publishing one, but being two weeks ahead.
If you’ve got a day off, try and get into the writing zone. This is useful especially if you have a list of topics to write about. Pick the ones that you are most into and start writing.
2. Don’t make excuses for yourself.
Do you think a doctor could turn a patient away for the same reasons writers can’t write? Do you think the client’s meal plan will work if they workout but only eat junk?
Writing is easy but writing is also very difficult. We have to be willing to dedicate time, effort, and consistency to our writing and our audience. Speaking of the audience…
3. Pay attention to your audience.
When my readers reached out to me to ask why I hadn’t posted in so long, that’s when I realized I wasn’t just writing to write anymore. I was writing to inspire, to connect, and to share my experiences and my insight with people, despite failing to believe it counted for much at times.
Why wasn’t I counting on myself the same way my readers were?
I figured that if I set up a schedule, I could stay a couple posts ahead and publish weekly. This step, of course, isn’t possible without adhering to the first two.
I realized the efficiency of this new tactic today when I realized that this was the third consecutive week in a row I had published a post on a Sunday. While I don’t usually write about well…writing, I thought I would try my hand at it.
At first I felt that the post wouldn’t be appealing to readers who prefer to read and not write, but this kind of thinking is exactly the kind of thinking that doesn’t encourage us to push ourselves. You have to take risks. While I may lose some audience on this one, I might gain an audience of writers. Even better, my audience of readers might try their hand at writing.
So in the end, everything balances itself out.
While writing provides us with a lot of freedom, that freedom, like any freedom, comes with responsibility. And while it can be pretty difficult to get through those droughts where we can barely type emails, let alone a real piece of writing, that is the burn your meant to feel after a really good workout.
Remember: if you keep writing, your readers will keep reading.