Writers block — I have it.
At first I wasn’t too worried. I finished a novel earlier this year, and created a screenplay from a short story, and then last month wrote two short stories in record time.
So what is this about writers block then?
Well, I haven’t been able to start anything new, except for the short stories, and they are both finished and off to markets. And that’s scary, not having anything to write. no new projects. No new characters living in my head with which to have conversations.
The creative well has dried up.
So yeah, while at the beginning of the year, through the summer and up until September 30, I was pretty much okay with it. Something would come. It always did.
I finally broke down and admitted what was going on. See, the thing is, I don’t believe in writers block. The fear that comes with writing is mostly of our own making, and I’ve gotten very good at not letting that fear stop me. But this is different. I want to write. I feel the itchy restlessness that I get when a project is welling up and ready to go. But I sit at the computer and nothing comes out. I tried to get started on something new that I have the merest glimmering of a concept for, and got a bit sick to my stomach at the words that I got down.
I turned to my colleagues, writers who have been there, done that, experienced the same thing. Here’s what they came up with:
- Create a particular character type and give that character a problem. It doesn’t matter what the problem is or who the character is, or even whether this becomes a short story or a novel.
- Exercise. Physical activity.
- If your brain doesn’t want to write, say “fine.” And then embargo the computer for two weeks and don’t write a word. (This is opposite from below; depends upon your personality.)
- Get a checkup — sometimes malaise can have a physical cause.
- Read nonfiction.
- Force yourself to write — don’t allow yourself to get up from the chair until you’ve gotten down 200 words. (this is actually a good one for me. I’m very good at distracting myself.)
I’ve done some form of all of these and have not had a breakthrough — yet. But in a way, it’s comforting that other writers go through this, that sometimes the well does run dry, that writers block is not malingering, no matter how much I tended to think that way (and boy is that a case of eating crow), and that eventually I will get unstuck. In the meantime, I will take a deep breath and stay calm.
I know the next story is coming. It’s just taking a little longer to break the surface.
How do you break through writers block?