"...There is no such thing as Writer’s block..."
Writer’s Block is real. Every writer ever has faced it.
But - there is a serious problem with calling it “Writer’s Block.” And every time you blame writer's block for not getting anywhere in your writing, you are making it worse.
Let me show you...
Last week, I was at the doctor’s office and overheard this scene:
Patient: "I don't feel good..."
Doctor: “OK. Where does it hurt?”
Patient: “I don’t know. I just feel bad.”
Writer’s Block is an unhelpful term because it lacks precision. Like Doctors, writers need to know where the problem is in order to solve it.
When we say, “I have Writer’s Block” - we’re actually referring to 1 of 3 separate obstacles that prevent us from writing.
In this article, I’ll explain the difference between these obstacles...
And how to solve them.
I get it.
You get it.
Even world-renowned Authors get it.
You have Perfectionist’s Block when you feel any of these:
To some degree, I've fallen ill with every last one of these.
Fortunately, there are plenty of cures.
I had a writing teacher once - a poet. Any time I read his work, I was always fascinated by his word choice. He always seemed to get it right.
So I asked him:
“Sometimes, I get stuck. I can’t figure out the right way to write a sentence. Sometimes, I can’t even get the right verb.”
“Use the wrong word. Fix it later.”
This is the kind of advice that’s so obvious, it’s almost invisible. Especially to new writers.
You do not have to write as well as your favorite author. All you need to do is write the best that you can.
With enough time, effort, and will-to-improve... one day, you will be someone else’s favorite author. (And then they’ll try to write like you, and get writer’s block, and the cycle will continue…)
An incomplete one. (I should know. I’ve failed to finish dozens of them here).
The next time you get stuck with “Perfectionist Writer’s Block,” open a new document, or tear off a new page.
At the top, label it in big, bold letters:
Give yourself permission to write a hot, steaming, asphalt-melting pile of trash... and good things will come.
Ah, procrastination. My old enemy.
Also, my current enemy.
Procrastinator's block is the most insidious of all Writer’s afflictions. It is also the hardest one to overcome.
Advice like: “just write” is great in theory. But how do you force yourself to sit down and write?
“Before bed, fill up a glass of water. Hold it up and speak an intention into the water. Drink half the water and then set the half-full glass on your nightstand. Go to sleep. When you wake up the next morning, drink the rest of the water immediately.”
I don’t point this out to mock it.
Instead, I want you to see how desperate for any solution even professional authors become.
Set both long term writing goals, and a short term word count or time limit goal.
For me… I’ve found that the first 20 minutes of writing are the hardest.
So everytime I sit down to write, I promise myself -
“I’m not leaving this desk until I’ve typed for 25 minutes at least.”
I set a stopwatch, not a timer, because once I get past that 20 minute mark, the words are flowing. I don’t want to interrupt that with anything.
Be ruthless. Don’t let anyone or anything steal your writing time from you.
When you get on a regular schedule, the choice to write becomes easy. This will help you stop procrastinating.
Then, all that’s left is to just write.
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” - Stephen King, On Writing
Like any parasite, most writers don’t even know when they have this Writer’s Block…
...even when it affects every word of their writing. Instead, they just feel it.
Here’s what the Boredom Block looks like:
Maybe you notice you’re spending too much time on character descriptions. Or maybe you just lose steam on the plot.
Fortunately, this form of Writer’s Block is the easiest one - and most enjoyable - to cure...
When you’re sick of your story…
And it’s no longer interesting to you…
Your readers will hate it too. If it ain’t interesting to you - the writer - it ain’t gonna be interesting to your readers.
Want to make it interesting?
Ruin someone’s day:
Twist your story until you can say, “Wow, that sounds amazing/awful.” Do whatever it takes to keep yourself engaged.
The more powerful the conflict, the more your readers will react.
What’s a better love story?
See how much better it is when you make it harder for your characters to get what they want?
Related Article: How to Write Extremely Addicting Heroes
Today, the words aren’t flowing.
You’ve tried everything.
Some people - even professional authors - recommend you leave your writing project alone for one or two days.
Oh, don’t you dare.
One or two days turns into four or five… weeks… months…
Giving it a “few days rest” is great advice when you’ve already finished the project. I would only step away when you’re about to enter the editing phase. NOT BEFORE.
Instead, listen to Hemingway’s advice on this - “Always stop for the day while you still know what happens next.”
I like to interpret this as - never stop when you don’t know what happens next.
Do anything you can to overcome your writer’s block before you stop writing for the day. Otherwise, you’ll dig the rut deeper.
Listen to nothing, or listen to music.
Do not listen to podcasts or audiobooks or talk radio… because you’ll focus on their words instead of yours.
This is something I do all the time, especially when I need a break in between my hours of writing. It’s good for your body, it’s good for your mind.
And it’s good for your writing.
We’re in ancient history.
You have an important duty, because you are the first writer in the known world.
But… as the first writer, you are also the first person to ever have Writer’s Block.
Where did the words go? Have the muses abandoned you?
What is the reason - natural, or other - for your Writer’s Block, and how will you overcome it?
Set a timer for 25 minutes, and start writing!
Related Article: The Top 13 YouTube Channels for Writers