I used to claim that Writer’s Block did not exist.
That claim wasn’t completely accurate.
All writers face roadblocks. We all have those moments where we just feel completely stumped, like there’s … well … some kind of blockage in our brains preventing us from writing.
So yes, technically, I guess, this concept does exist.
But I don’t like the way it’s used. How it’s always blamed for the activity known as “not writing.”
I don’t like that too many writers use “I’m feeling blocked” as an excuse not to sit down and do their work. Because, for the most part, the only thing that’s actually stopping you from writing is you.
While it’s true that we all face “roadblocks” to our creativity and productivity, the difference between writers who succeed and those who do not often comes down to how they respond to these barriers.
Let’s say, to give a simple example, you sit down to write. But then you realize, after sitting down, that you feel extremely hungry.
Fact: You can’t write words on an empty stomach, at least not very easily.
Fact: At some point, you have to feed your hungry body/brain. But you also have to write.
You have to choose: Writing or food?
Some writers will choose food. And then they allow food to distract them for the rest of their allotted writing time, and do not end up writing anything at all.
But other writers will not allow food to disrupt their writing time, at least not for long.
They have plenty of options. They can either write and eat at the same time (guilty), or write for a short amount of time, eat, and then continue writing.
There are all kinds of roadblocks. Many writers deal with self-doubt, and use it as an excuse not to write instead of treating it as an obstacle to overcome by writing.
It’s not that your need to eat, or your crippling self-doubt, are not legitimate reasons to struggle. They’re very real, very serious reasons.
But they’re still excuses. And you have the power to choose whether or not you will let them distract you or write despite them.
For successful writers, there is no such thing as “I can’t write.” They find a way. And when things do come up and they have to take time off or whatever, they find a way to make up for it. They don’t just sit around waiting for “inspiration” or “the right time” or “the perfect idea.” They just write. They make it happen regardless of what’s attempting to stand in their way.
Don’t think you can ever clear your hurdles? You’ll get there. As long as you start practicing the art of “doing it anyway.”
Once I figured that out — and it took years to do so — it got a lot easier to write, no matter how hard or scary or overwhelming it could be at times.
You can do it, too. Just write. It’s really not as hard as your roadblocks want you to think it is.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
3 thoughts on “We All Have Writing Roadblocks. You Need to Stop Letting Yours Control You.”
One of my favorite techniques involves the concept of the muse, the idea that I can choose to right, but I do not have complete control over the quality of that writing. I just have to focus on doing my part, which is continuing to write, and trust that in time, my muse will do their part, and grant me that special state where what I write is amazing. It’s not an excuse to “not try” or “write poorly”, but it is a helpful reminder that my job or role is to write, and write a lot, to the best of my ability. The rest is out of my hands.
In my mind writer’s block is a trick, trying to convince me to worry about quality, when that’s not my role right now. If I’m writing badly today then my role is to write badly, and write a lot of bad writing.
I love your perspective on this! A lot of people could really benefit from a writing-focused mindset like yours. :)