I recently visited with a new writer over coffee. She confessed, almost embarrassed, “I've written on and off for years. Well, sort of…but, now I'm really trying to get serious about my novel, except I keep quitting. It's really frustrating. How do you ummm,” she looked away, then back at me again, “How do you fight writer's block?”
That's a great question, and the answer is…
You can't fight it.
That's the bad news.
The good news is you can still achieve success on the page. You can still write great stories.
Name and Claim Your Writer's Block
When writer's block is there, it's there. It's like an invisible force field of negativity surrounding your body. Novelist Steven Pressfield calls this internal self-sabotage Resistance.
You want to write, but Fear stops you. It lies and says you're not good enough, so you hedge, unsure of your talents. Sometimes you can't break through the anxiety. Other times, you can't.
When writer's bocks stops you in your tracks, don't try to battle it or pretend it isn't there.
That's useless. It's a waste of time and energy, not to mention make matters worse.
Instead, claim the Fear, lean into the discomfort, and learn to use it to regain your creative mojo.
The next time Fear sticks to you like Super Glue, try this:
1. Take a deep breath, then start writing. Scribble away or pound at the keyboard about anything, except the piece causing you such worry (that story, article, memoir) you keep fighting inside.
2. Drain Your Brain. Gripe, groan, whine, moan on paper about everything bugging you with this piece: how ridiculous you feel by acting so scared… how much this sucks… why you hate it when you can't write. Blah, blah, blah. Keep going, no matter how lousy, crappy or whiny you sound. Do this as quick as you can. Write faster than your fear.
The strange, but brilliant aspect of this method is your mind will eventually tire of your negativity. You can feel the emotionally shift inside you—a lightness. You're now ready to move onto to that piece which spooked you so much in the first place. Goodbye writer's block.
It's Not You—It's Fear
Don't think there's something wrong with you when this happens. Don't worry you're not talented enough, smart enough, disciplined enough to write. Fear is part of the creative process and that's its job. To stop you from writing, querying, blogging, publishing, however you're trying to stretch yourself creatively. Fear will try to shut you down, again and again. Expect these blocks.
Learn to gripe it out of your system, then write anyway. It's weird, but it works, which makes it not so weird after all.
What special tricks do you use to overcome writer's block and fear? Let us know in the comments section.