writer's block

Writer’s Block Goes Beyond Not Having the Words  

Here's what writer's block REALLY is, and why it has nothing to do with a blockage, but rather, something more surprising.

Writer’s Block {def.} according to Wikipedia:

the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing

Here’s my take on writer’s block and what it really *can* mean. I often think that writer’s block gets associated with just not having the words to type or write at any given moment or point in time, whether that means during a designated writing session or during the development of a book. But in my opinion, writer’s block means so much more and if you read the definition according to Wikipedia, you’ll see what I mean.

From my own perspective, writer’s block is a symptom of a bigger challenge: you’ve allowed your creative well to run dry. You haven’t taken the time to write down all your ideas, keep a bullet journal of scene possibilities, words you like, character names, etc. 

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my writing career was to start a bullet journal to keep all these things written down. I encourage you to do the same. 

Being able to think of what to write next is just one component of writer’s block. The part that I think is even more detrimental to an author or a writer’s career is the second part. “How to proceed with writing” is often the trouble with any writer’s career. This portion of the definition of writer’s block is so important – so vague – and yet you have to wonder… are we approaching writer’s block completely wrong?

How to proceed with writing… I think we’ve been conditioned, as writers, to “walk away” from the problem based on what I’ve read online by those who are successful and those who, well, are not. I’m going to approach the development of my opinion based on one thing: the project has to get done.

If you think about it, many of us self-published authors no longer have a boss to report to. We’re not working for anyone in particular other than ourselves in this process of self-publishing. I use the word “most” quite liberally here, because I know for some of you, you might be working for someone as a writer in a traditional publishing sense. The accountability just isn’t there for many writers I think. “I’ll do it tomorrow… I’ll redo my outline… I’ll wait until the words come…”, etc. Imagine giving a real-life boss these kinds of phrases and see how long you last at that job. So if we want to focus on productivity and getting the writing actually done, having writer’s block is merely an annoyance that a writer has to overcome during the “job”.

Think about all that is keeping you from being productive as a writer. For me, well, I have six kids to watch during the daytime and teach, my regular job to do (teaching online courses), a husband to care and cook for, animals to feed and groom, and well, life. Life’s details and upkeep is a writer’s block. Life often keeps us from getting writing done. Period. And since we can’t put aside “life”, we’re going to have to utilize that precious time we get to write to better manage ourselves as successful writers.

I figured this out about two years ago when I first started writing. I would get interrupted all the time. I still do. But I’ve figured out ways to get around it by changing up my production style based on various life triggers.

It’s not so much that we don’t have the words it’s being able to formulate them – it’s the triggers of life that prevent our success. Facebook. Coffee. Phone calls. Distractions. Kids. Spouses. Email. These were all things that were keeping me from getting things done. So frustrated by it all, I started to research. Surely there was a better way at overcoming writer’s block than just walking away from it and having nothing get done. (Also a huge life frustration that was a constant blow to my self-esteem).

Fast forward to now: I often don’t have my hands free so if I’m caring for one of my children I’m having to dictate instead into a device with one hand. If I’m cooking I’m talking out loud and having something record my words for me. If I’m actually able to sit down at the computer and type my brain often loses connectivity with my fingers so the words don’t exactly transmit to the page. I’ll switch it up to a different method.

So what I’ve been doing the last two years is really studying different writing styles and systems of how to ensure that we actually get the writing that we need to do done. I look at some of the great writers and how many books they’re able to produce. What is important to understand is sometimes the recommendations from the “greats” don’t work for everyone. I don’t think that there’s any one system that is universal to us all. So what I figured out why is there were different styles of systems of writing that I could talk about and teach people.

I think the typical response for being “diagnosed with writer’s block” has been to simply walk away and wait for the words to come. I’m not sure that that’s the answer. It doesn’t improve productivity. Just like with learning, sometimes we need a different medium to work with information. I don’t think that writing is all that different from learning. So to enhance productivity why not just switch gears to a different style that will work for that period of time for writing?

If writing on the laptop isn’t working and your fingers are getting in the way when I just switch over to dictation? If you’re having technological issues with speech-typing then switch to handwriting or typewriter. If you’re stuck in the scene why not focus on sounds, colors, or anything else that needs detail?

Writer’s block doesn’t have to necessarily be an issue. you’ll be able to have better flow and even more productivity than before by being able to switch your methods of getting words on the page.

Here’s to your best, most productive writing year yet. Keep writing, yo.

pst! – I do not accept money for my editorial content or posts. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by third parties. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. This helps keep the blog running!

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