Here is what I think about writer’s block.
It is a made up concept. It doesn’t exist.
We blame writer’s block because we don’t understand what is holding us back from writing. We don’t understand why it’s so hard to write down what we want to say.
“If writer’s block doesn’t exist, why can’t I write then?” you might ask. “I sit down and want to write, but nothing comes out, I feel miserable.”
Here are some reasons:
1. You don’t know how to articulate your ideas
We stare at the blank screen(or page) and agonize. Why isn’t anything coming out? We think we have an article, an essay, or a short story in our mind, and we have a rought idea about how it should look like, but once we sit down to actually write, we can’t express it.
It’s as if we are trying to squeeze an elephant through a keyhole—and it’s not coming out, no matter how hard we try.
One reason we get stuck is because creativity and articulation are different things. When we come up with the ideas, the images — we are being creative. But to articulate these same things, we need to take a disorganized pile of pictures, images, words and feelings, and find an order to it.
I see only on way to find an order. And it is called thinking. We need to think. And the best way to think(in my opinion at least) is to write.
Writing is thinking.
We still hold this romantizised view of writers: Artist, struck with a divine inspiration, is hunching over a table, guided by the muses, writing his/her masterpiece in one mad creative burst. But this rarely happens.
We can’t just think about something in your heads and then expect the words magically pop out onto the paper, perfectlty capturing the thought. We need to use writing as a tool for thinking. Writing will help us to find order in the beautiful chaos of our creativity.
When we use writing to help us think, we come to realization that we don’t actually know enough about the subject. We think we know – everything seems clear and perfect when we daydream about it. Once we are forced to articulate the ideas in a clear and organized way, it turns out to be a complete mess.
Solution: Start writing without trying to be perfect. Just write whatever comes to your mind. Use writing itself to express your doubts and worries. This will help because writing is thinking. Writing in itself will help you understand what do you actually want to say.
2. You write only one thing at a time.
Many writers make a big mistake and only write one thing at a time. They keep working on it until it’s finished. And when they get stuck with the piece they are working on, they don’t have nothing else to do. They stare at the page and blame the writer’s block.
Solution to this problem is quite obvious.
Soulution: Write many things at the same time.
I currently have at least 20 or more articles, essays, blog posts, and outlines of different sorts in progress.
When I don’t feel like writing one thing, I switch to another one.
It’s just a lucky chance that I picked this article today and decided to flesh it out, work on it. This article has been in progress for over three or four months. But the actual amount I haver worked on it might sum up to few hours. I don’t know exactly. And I don’t know when it will be “ready”. I just happened to stumble upon it today among other articles that I’m writing.
When I feel like I don’t know how to proceed, I just switch projects, browse around among unfinished articles, fix a typo here and there, rewrite a sentence, re-read what I have written, and feeling totally discusted, rewrite everything.
When you don’ t know what to write about, pick another project and work on it. Keep switching.
If you are reading this article that can mean only one thing — somehow it reached the finishing line. It passed many stages: initial idea stage, outline, rewriting, drafting, revision, formatting for publication. But it is finally here.
3. I can’t write, no mather what, words are not coming out.
Even if you have applied previous two suggestions you might still find that the words are not coming out, as if you have lost the ability to write coherently.
That’s fine, it happens to all of us. Some days are just not writing days. But this is not an instance of writers block, you just can’t write at this moment.
The good news is: Writing down words is not the only kind of writing. You can “write” without typing.
Solution: Do something that progresses your writing without you actually writing anything.
Here are some things you can do:
- If you can’t write, then organize.
- If you can’t write, then research.
- If you can’t write, edit.
- If you can’t write, read.
There are many ways you can advance your writing without holding a pen in hand.
Next time you feel like you have writer’s block, ask yourself if its actually something else: lack of ideas, not feeling like writing this thing, out of research, cornered yourself in. Ask yourself what else can you do to advance your writing, it doesn’t have to be writing.