When it comes to battling writer’s block, there’s a lot you can do to get back to work.
Whether you’re a published author, beginner blogger, or anywhere in between, you’re bound to have been hit by writer’s block at some point or another. There are numerous articles about how to battle this dreaded roadblock, but what exactly is writer’s block?
According to Edmund Bergler, one of Freud’s disciples, writer’s block is one of the many manifestations of “psychic masochism” — or, “the unconscious wish to defeat one’s conscious aims, and to enjoy that self-constructed defeat.” Why would anyone want to do that to themselves? There are a few theories, but one of which may be that by feeling “starved” our creativity is forced to kick in, much like how procrastination can leave us feeling desperate, but still (sometimes) produce work amidst the hardship.
Writer’s block also gets blamed on depression, perfectionism, and procrastination. Regardless of whatever may be causing it, writer’s block doesn’t have to be a reason for you to shut down your project for the day. But what can you do to defeat it? Consider these pieces of advice from other writers:
“Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.” – Ernest Hemingway
“I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say, Oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.” – Barbara Kingsolver
“Over the years, I’ve found one rule…. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.” – Norman Mailer
“Writer’s block… a lot of howling nonsense would be avoided if, in every sentence containing the word writer, that word was taken out and the word plumber substituted; and the result examined for the sense it makes. Do plumbers get plumber’s block? What would you think of a plumber who used that as an excuse not to do any work that day?” – Phillip Pullman
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” – Mark Twain
When the words aren’t flowing freely, when your mind feels frozen and unimaginative, when your fingers can’t seem to type what you want them to… Take a moment and will yourself to make something up. Whatever you write doesn’t have to make it past the first draft, but the important thing is that you just do it.