|Calvin takes the idea too literally|
Essentially writer's block is made up of two parts, I believe. First is the lack of motivation; you just don't feel like writing, that excitement or interest isn't there; it seems miserable drudgery to even sit down and start. The second is a lack of what people generally call "inspiration" where you cannot feel any sort of natural flow of ideas. Its like you have to force something on to the page where before it was so easy and just poured out of you on to the paper.
Facing this can be horrible. Some very famous people's writing careers were essentially ended by writer's block. C.S. Lewis stopped writing because he was a very visual person. When he wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, he started with an image of a faun in the snow carrying packages by a lamppost in the forest. From there, Lewis created one of the most beloved and masterful children's fantasy book series in human history. When he couldn't see those images, Lewis couldn't write and was done.
|Lets see a yogi walk on this|
The thing is, "writer's block" is not one thing. its not a single event or issue, its usually a lot of stuff like a pile of lego you step on. It all hurts but it comes in the form of lots of different pieces and from different causes. Writer's block, it seems to me, is a combination of all kinds of things, usually including but not exclusive to these elements:
- Perfectionism (I won't get it right, why start?)
- Fatigue (OK I finished dinner and washed the clothes, put the kids to sleep, now for my novel... ugh)
- Fear (this is gonna suck, it will never be published, why am I wasting time?)
- Comparison (this isn't as good as I imagined/I'll never be as good as [insert author here])
- Illness (I just don't feel like writing now, I need to lie down)
- Depression (What's the point?)
- Dislike of the text (I wrote something I didn't care for and now it all feels just wrong)
Some even suggest (pdf) that writer's block can be at least partially physiological, with a mental shift going on from conscious thought to limbic. This argument suggests that you're approaching the work from your innate "fight or flight" mindset rather than your rational mindset, and its keeping you from getting anything productive done.
However you come around to it, writer's block sucks. And there are only a few ways to deal with it. Here's how I've managed to do it in the past, perhaps it might help you as well.DISCIPLINE
The key to getting past any delays in writing is to form patterns in your life that help you deal with delays and productivity. The truth is, writing is self-employment, and the only way to remotely be successful at any form of self-employment is to be disciplined and focused. Its too easy to find something else to do, whether work or the oceans of entertainment possibilities we're surrounded by.
Forming those habits of regular, disciplined work, set time periods to focus on the job, getting something done each day, setting goals and meeting them etc are all very helpful for avoiding or breaking writer's block.If you just work when you feel like it, just about any excuse will stop you from working. If you work unless you absolutely cannot and don't have it in you, then very little will. Discipline will deal with nearly every form of writer's block, because you just keep going anyway. Discipline means doing what you must or know you should anyway, because its part of you.PROFESSIONALISM
Now, if its just a hobby, writer's block is no particular cause for concern. Go do something else instead. But if you want to make money at this, if you want to finish a book and publish, then that's another issue entirely.
If you are working for yourself, there's nobody you are accountable to but you. You're not on the clock, you don't go to work and check in, there's no boss watching you. So its all up to you, and the only way to get that to work is to form habits and disciplines which lead to regular, steady work all day. If it was truly just up to whether you felt like working that day, how many days would you actually show up if you didn't have to at your job? You must treat writing the same as you do any other job, if you mean to do it professionally.
Treating your writing as a job means you show up and do your job every day because its your job. Like any job, you show up and work however you feel unless it is really a dire problem. Depressed? Some of us deal with that nearly every day, but you can push past it and keep going anyway - at any job. Tired? Yeah, lots of times you drag into work tired from a late night before or too much the last week, but you get in there and do it, to get your 8 hours in. Treating your writing as work will get you through that as well.
Like the joke goes:
hate your job? Great, there's a club for that, and the membership is everybody. We meet at the bar every night.