You’ve felt it.
The struggle that is trying to do something as simple as type words, but they won’t come.
Make sentences, but they won’t make sense.
Tell stories, but they somehow seem wrong.
I don’t like the term “writer’s block.” I think it’s used too often to give writers an easy out when they don’t feel like writing.
But that’s not to say I have never felt creatively “blocked.” Oh, I have. I do right now. It’s taken me an hour to write this much on just one blog post.
Why? Well, that’s a little personal. But I can tell you how I’m dealing with it.
It’s a combination of strategies. Walking when I need to clear my head. Playing with my puppy when I need to laugh. Turning off my computer and spending time with a book when I need to free myself from the weight of the world for a little while.
Different tips work for different people. Some find it helpful to take a walk, listen to music, or simply step away from their screens and work on something else for awhile.
Others need to take more drastic approaches, forfeiting their writing time so they can rest or take care of more pressing issues making them unable to focus on their work.
But most of the time, what you do to relieve yourself of this frustrating feeling is less important than figuring out why it’s happening in the first place.
The bottom line is, if you’re feeling blocked, there’s a reason. And it doesn’t always relate directly to what you’re writing. Often times, the specific project you are working on has nothing to do with your “brain drought” at all.
This is why I encourage writers not to give up so easily on their works-in-progress. The problem might not be what you’re working on. It might be something that’s going on at work or in your personal life that’s merely getting in the way.
If you can figure out what’s “triggering” your blockage, that’s at least one place to start. I know what’s been bugging me all week, and at least knowing the cause has helped me push through my not-wanting-to-do-any-writing moments and get my work done anyway.
But what if you can’t work through it? What if it’s something ongoing that doesn’t have a temporary solution or easy fix? If that’s the case, it might be in your best interest to take a writing break. There is nothing wrong with putting your writing aside to deal with Life Things.
Just always remember that you can come back. You will come back. If you’re a true writer at heart, you will find a way back to your craft. No obstacle can keep you away form it forever. It’s as much a part of you as your blood. You cannot thrive without it.
Feeling blocked can be the result of something simple. Or maybe the solutions aren’t all that simple to find. What’s most important is that you’re honest with yourself from the beginning. Is it the project — or is it you?
Knowing the difference can save a lot of writing projects from unnecessary abandonment. And it could save you a lot of guilt and self-loathing, too.
Don’t give up on the project. Give up on the struggle. If writing just isn’t happening, shift your focus. Take care of yourself. Your family. Whatever it is. Straighten out your priorities. Reorder them if you have to. You will find a way to fit writing in. It will always find a way.
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.