Have you ever had that burning itch to write, but you couldn’t quite bring yourself to do it? There’s a story in your head, a little idea, a tiny spark – but nothing ignites when you pick up your pen. Nothing satisfies. Or maybe you know you have the words on your fingertips, but life is just too overwhelming. Your family is always around, and writing around others makes you nervous. Maybe there are too many distractions. Maybe your doubting yourself.
Or maybe…it’s writers block.
Yeah, that’s got to be it. Writers block. Like a brick wall in your head that you can’t crash through, no matter how hard you try….because you HAVE tried, right?
I was feeling this way a few nights ago. I knew I should be working. I knew I should shut out the world for at least an hour and write something, but I couldn’t.
I automatically went to writers block, even though I’m not even in the stages of writing my manuscript yet, and that’s when I realized – Maybe writers block is just an excuse?
Go with me here for a second. Writers block is a bad significant other. The kind that leeches on your happiness. Tries to constantly bring you down. Not on purpose, just because they can’t find their own happiness. They’re always bringing their negative attitude to the party and creating a dam where your creativity should flow. There is only one thing left for you to do:
Set Aside Your Guilt > All artists feel it. It’s the burning inside your gut when you ditch your chores, push back your school work, or tell a friend you can’t go out – all to work on this elusive, imaginary dream of yours that may never work. It’s maddening how guilty I feel when I tell my husband I need to be left alone for a few hours. He never does anything to make me feel guilty, though. I bring it all on myself. Think about it – WHY do you feel guilty? Why in the world should anyone feel guilty about at least trying to accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish? And in the time you sat there, feeling bad about taking the time, you could have written 100 words. Maybe 1,000.
Turn Off The Tech > I know sometimes, especially during NaNo Prep month, we have to have our computers for research. And that’s fine. But your cell phone, the television, and your kid’s game system have GOT to go. At least to another room. I’m weird, I like background noise, but many people just can’t function with it. If you’re finding your head can’t concentrate on getting the words written, there’s probably something distracting you.
Talk To Someone > Sometimes writing a book can feel like a daydream. Being a writer is lonely. Writers block wants to get you alone. He wants to isolate you. Don’t let him. My writing career became infinitely more concrete when I told my husband and close friends that this is my dream job. It’s hard to open your mouth and say something like: “I want to be a writer” or “I’m writing a book this year” because in the adult world you can’t help but feel a little silly. But breaking up with writers block starts with confiding in your closest family and friends. Tell them your goals. Speak them out loud. That’s when everything becomes real.
Start Anywhere > Psh, who says a book starts from the beginning? Who says you even have to write a book? Start from wherever your idea starts. Don’t try and force a beginning that doesn’t exist. Start from the end. It doesn’t matter, just write. Show writers block that it can’t hold you back by putting road blocks on a street that you are paving.
Write Anything > Recently, I was having a hard time coming up with some of my plot points. I kept putting my pen to my notebook and nothing was coming out. Or everything that I did write, I hated. So I just started writing nonsense. Literally… nonsense. I started writing about monkeys. It was totally useless toward my manuscript, but it got my pen moving. It forced me to put ink on the page. Once I took all the pressure off of myself to write something great, the words started to flow.
Do not wait for writers block to fall out of love with you. Break up with him.
Can writers block really hurt us if we cease to believe he exists? I’ve been to plenty of book signings where some aspiring author in the crowd asks the published author, “How do you get over writers block?” It’s always the same answer. They don’t. They just write. They don’t have time for writers block. And now, neither do you.
So stop taking his phone calls. Don’t go out with him tonight. Stay home, get comfortable, and start building a beautiful relationship with your creativity. Meanwhile, lock writers block outside of your mind. It may be harder than it sounds, but I know you can do it!
Let me know how you broke up with writers block, if at all, and tweet me on Twitter: @NicoleLautore if you have any feedback! I love hearing from y’all. 🙂