Saturday, May 9, 2020
Is Writer’s Block a Real Thing? ~ by Sarah Fenlon Falk
I’m sure you’ve heard the conversation before and have taken one side or another on the topic. It’s an interesting debate among writers: Is writer’s block a real thing? If it is real, what is it truly? And finally, What can you do to get through it?
In my humble opinion there is such a thing as “a block” to writing. I don’t believe it’s some existential crisis or another mysterious phenomena known only to writers. All humans block themselves from time to time.
As for me, I get so tangled up in all the ideas, in all the to-dos, in all the stuff, that I am unable to move forward. So I wonder what your experience is with this thing we call writer’s block. Do you try to think of something to write, thinking so hard that it seems your mind can’t formulate a single sentence? Do you become too overwhelmed with the project at hand that you shut down?
So, if you’re blocked for any reason right now I’d like to offer some suggestions. (Sometimes we just need to get out of our own head to see more clearly!)
1. Get away from the work. Step back from your project. You may need to literally walk out of your office, out of your house and take a jaunt down the street. (With mask on if that is what is recommended in your area at this time!) Sunshine and nature has a way of clearing the mind and easing that tension. It may help to clear away any blocks you may be experiencing.
2. Free write. Christopher Dowling recommends this and practices it before each writing session. I love free writing because it allows me to write for the fun of it, to get other ideas out that are distracting me from the task at hand, or it helps to clear my head of the multitude of other things I need to get done. (Yes, sometimes my freewriting is in the form of a list of chores!) After emptying my head of all the “clutter” I am better able to focus on my main project.
3. Write short. Guys, I LOVE to write short! It’s so satisfying to sit down and write a short story, start to finish, and see a completed work in front of me. It refuels me for the larger project at hand! If you want to write short for a contest Reedsy.com has plenty of contests they run each week. It would be a good opportunity to potentially win $50 and clear you mind at the same time! (BONUS: if you’re struggling on WHAT to write, Reedsy has prompts that they give you for said contest!)
4. Practice Qi Gong/Tai Chi/Yoga/Meditation. Starting your day in a meditative practice can set your mind and get you started on the right path. When you awaken in a frenzy of activity with not quiet time for yourself, that usually sets the tone for your day and when you finally sit down to your writing project you are more likely to be distracted.
5. Allow yourself some time off. Sometimes we are pushing too hard and we have to back off. It’s okay to take a breather. Especially during this strange and challenging time in our world where work, schooling and home life are occupying the same space. It is very challenging and maybe you just need some time off to read, watch movies, play board games and listen to podcasts (WordPlay and Storyteller Station are two great places to start!).
6. Spend some time revisioning. What is it you want? What is your mission in writing? I explore this with all of my guests on my podcast Storyteller Station. Why are you writing? If you can determine why you write and what you hope to get from writing and/or publishing, it will help you stay focused. Kristine mentioned her blogpost from January, how redefining success helped her feel better about her work. If you are too caught up in comparing yourself and your work to that of others you will get blocked! Defining your vision, your mission and defining success will help release you to do the work you love!
So, is writer’s block a real thing? I guess it is. But writers aren’t the only people who block themselves! If you are a writer and are finding your work is halted I hope these words are useful to you in some way and that you find your way back to the page.
Take a break, breathe, revision and write!
Listen to Sarah Fenlon Falk's podcast episode here.