Dealing With Writer’s Block
Everyone experiences it at some point: the need to write but the inability to make anything come to mind. The soul-crushing moment of staring at a blank page, knowing you need to put something there but not knowing what.
Or maybe you have every idea of what you want but can’t get it out. Maybe you know exactly what you want to say because you can feel it in your core, but no word seems to properly convey what you mean. Nothing is right, so nothing is written.
Whatever your form of writer’s block, it’s the worst. At that moment, everything feels futile.
Your essay is no longer worth it—you can afford to fail this one assignment. Your short story won’t amount to anything—nobody will want to read it anyway. Your novel isn’t going anywhere—it’s time to scrap and start over. Your article won’t be anything meaningful—don’t bother.
Succumbing to that feeling of futility, that moment of “is this worth it?” is the worst way to deal with writer’s block.
Instead, do the opposite.
Don’t know what to write? Write exactly that: “I have no idea what I’m writing about.”
Don’t know how to say what you feel? Write exactly that: “I have no idea how to put this into better words.”
Why are you writing? Why can’t you get the words right? Why are you so set on writing this thing that you aren’t going to give up, even in the face of writer’s block?
It doesn’t matter which “why” you’re answering as long as you’re answering why.
Chances are, you now have a better idea of what you’re writing. Maybe you have to merge in a new idea to make things less strained. Maybe you haven’t done all the research you thought you did, so now you need to brush up on your knowledge. Maybe you really do have to scrap an idea, but you shouldn’t fully delete it. Keep it in a creative compost pile somewhere, waiting for a better time to be used.
Or maybe you’re just afraid.
Maybe you’re simply too scared of failure, so you don’t even try.
This is my own personal downfall, and I know I’m not the only one like this.
Sometimes I get so terrified of writing something bad, I end up not writing at all.
It’s a problem I have always struggled with, in more than just my writing, but by struggling with it I have learned various ways to help others who struggle, too. The easiest solution?
So what if it’s bad? The only people who will see that messy creation are those you allow to see it—nobody else. Until you’re ready, you don’t have to show anyone.
Use that knowledge. Write horribly. Write as badly as you possibly can and go back later to make it better.
Perfection isn’t the goal of a first draft—it’s getting the words down.
After that, you can worry about making it better. After that, you don’t have to worry about writer’s block. You get to deal with a whole other monster: editing.
Editing is something else entirely, so take pride in knowing you got to that stage. Take pride in knowing you wrote something, anything, even if it isn’t what you think it should be.