I have a secret: I have started this post not once, not twice, but EIGHT TIMES.
I knew it was coming; I scheduled it in. I knew what I wanted to write about; I chose the subject matter.
But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, the words just don’t come, and now, on my ninth draft, I feel the dull, repetitive pain of someone who can see a window, and through the window there’s a delicious looking bar of chocolate; but I can’t open the window so instead I’m banging my head on a brick wall over and over again and getting no closer to the delicious food but I’m HUNGRY, damn it, and I need that chocolate NOW!
What am I talking about? I’m talking about Writer’s Block.
For the uninitiated, Writer’s Block is a crippling, debilitating condition when you want to write, and you know you SHOULD write, but you cannot find the words. Every little concept floating from brain to finger to paper/computer screen is rubbish, stale and old hat – as cliched as the adjectives I just used to describe it.
I write a lot, at my day job and during my free time. It’s fair to say I’ve had my share of Writer’s Block. Here are some of my favourite solutions:
1. Get out and experience things. Go for a walk, drink in some fresh air, ride a bicycle, chase some seagulls – just live and be and try and forget that impending deadline, whether self-imposed or actual.
2. Immerse yourself in someone else’s culture. Read a book, watch a movie, listen to an album if that’s your thing. Just let someone else do the creative thinking for a change and appreciate the hell out of it.
3. Write something else. One of my FAVOURITE things to do when suffering from Writer’s Block is write something else. Whether you’re making notes about the old man at the table across from you in the cafe is shaking as his gnarled hands lift the delicate china to his mouth, or writing unspoken dialogue for a couple you saw ‘not talking to each other’ on the train. Sometimes, just getting something on paper can loosen the flow of the words and make it all okay again.
4. Forgive yourself. When I get Writer’s Block, the voices in my head sound like this:
Evil voice on shoulder: Why can’t you write, you stupid hack? People are paying you to produce good work and you come up with this ridiculous dribble? A drunk could do better than that! Wait, are you drunk? What is WRONG WITH YOU?
Me: I’m trying, I really am. I’m so sorry. I’m never going to be any good…
Evil voice: That’s right – you won’t! You should probably never write again. In fact, see that waitress at the cafe over there? You probably couldn’t even do THAT job, as you’d have to write down orders! You hack!
You need to tell those little voices in your head to be quiet, that everyone gets Writer’s Block and that it is perfectly normal. It is OKAY TO NOT BE AWESOME ALL THE TIME.
Was this what I was supposed to post about today? Absolutely not.
But, having gone for a walk, written an internal dialogue for the voices in my head while listening to Billy Joel, do I feel better?
Lauren McKellar writes, reads, and has voices in her head. Working at Universal Magazines and Entranced Publishing, she authors New Adult fiction and hugs puppies in her spare time.