Writer’s block. It is defined as a condition where you, the writer, are unable to produce any work. It happens to everyone. It happens to you and it happened to F. Scott. Fitzgerald. It is written about, discussed, and written about some more. People commiserate about writer’s block and they spend countless hours, dollars, and tears trying to overcome it. So what actually causes writer’s block, because in my experience you cannot really resolve anything until you know the cause?
Writer’s Block is often Caused by Fear
In the vast majority of cases fear is the culprit. In fact, fear holds us back from being and achieving in most areas of our life. It prevents us from having real and honest relationships, it prevents us from asking for what we want and it prevents us from achieving our dreams.
Writer’s block in the form of fear:
- Fear of failure – prevents people from putting pen to paper and trying
- Fear of success – what happens after the book is published?
- Fear of criticism and feedback – what will they think?
- Fear of repeating past mistakes – what if it happens again?
- Fear that it sucks – it might.
- Fear that it won’t be successful – it might not.
- Fear that once you get into the middle of it, you won’t be able to write your way out.
- Fear that the plot, characters, voice, and style just don’t work.
- Fear that once you get started you might not be able to finish and a fear of finishing and not knowing what you’ll do when it’s done.
- Fear of the book not being perfect- it won’t be, nothing is.
- Fear of the writing process – it can open up some raw emotions and old wounds.
Fears aren’t usually reasonable.
They’re driven from our ego. As I sit here I’ve been hesitant to put pen to paper because I am afraid that I’ll put days, weeks, and months into a story that I have no idea how to finish. In fact, I barely have a start but it’s the only story in my head at the moment and yet I’ve yet to start writing it.
We all face fears. We all have the same decision – push past the fear (ignore that crappy emotion) and write anyway
Let the fear win and prevent you from writing today.
You’re probably wondering about the writer’s block that happens when you are sitting at your computer and staring at a blank page and you just don’t know what’s going to happen next. You have no idea and your imagination is…well…it’s blocked.
Writer’s Block When Your Imagination is on Vacation.
What causes your imagination to take a vacation? I have no idea. Stress. Fatigue. Lack of sex. Hey, it’s possible. It just happens sometimes.
There are a few approaches and none of them is better than the other.
Let your imagination take a vacation.
No one says you have to write every day, right? Oh, wait a minute, I do usually say that. Hey, if your brain needs a break then maybe you should give it one. A short hiatus is okay. Just don’t stay away so long that you forget you’re a writer.
You can write something, anything, and see what happens.
If your heroine won’t pull the trigger and you don’t know what she’s going to do next, try something. Maybe she throws the gun. Try that and see what happens. Experiment.
You can look for inspiration.
You can read, watch television, go for a hike, visit the museum or whatever inspires you. Look for inspiration and answers outside your normal routine.
You can noodle.
This is what I call when I spend some time just daydreaming and thinking about what can happen in the story. It sometimes takes days and that’s okay. The answer comes eventually.
You can move on.
Finally, you can skip it and move onto a different area of your story. They don’t have to be written linearly.
Decide what’s causing your writer’s block.
Think about it. Be honest with yourself. You don’t have to tell anyone why you’re having a difficult time and if you do you can make something up. However, don’t lie to yourself. If you’re afraid of failure, then you’re human and in good company.
If you’re afraid of criticism, then you’ll have to figure that one out because we go through life being judged and criticized. And if you are blocked because you’re just too damned tired to think then cut yourself some slack and take a break from writing (a short break).
You can’t overcome writer’s block until you know what is honestly causing it.