Why do Writers get Writer's Block?

Photo "Writer's Block" by Sharon Drummond via Flickr CC.
I loathe this. The last thing I wanted to write about for you guys was my having writer's block. I haven't written or even tried to sit at my desk for a couple of weeks now, and prior to that, I was going back and forth with The Binding of Saint Barbara, knowing what I needed to do with it but unable to decide where to start. I think I was struggling because I had thought I'd be editing it and realized I still have to write a lot of chapters after having cut out half the book last year. I thought I was much closer to a finished book but now I know it's going to take longer to get it out there.

I've also been struggling with getting back into some sort of writing routine since publishing A White Room. Promoting just requires a different energy than what is used when creating, and getting back into that flow after a year has been more difficult that I anticipated. Perhaps, that energy is why I feel so rushed to get another book out there.

Plus, I've had a lot of life stuff that's been piling up in my emotional 'to deal with later' file: medical stuff, aging stuff, what's the point of life stuff.  Then, right when I was on the edge, a death in the family shoved me off my emotional balance and into the abyss.

Authors don't really define writer's block exactly the same. I define it as any time when I want to but cannot produce creative work. As you can see from this newsletter, I can still write. It's just writing fiction that's giving me trouble. Each episode of writer's block is not the same either. Sometimes, it seems I can only write dribble. Other times it's that I can't come up with anything at all. The worst is when I go back and forth about things for hours, never committing to start somewhere or to add something or to change a comma, and then when I ask myself what at all I accomplished, I come up with nothing but wasted time.

Why do writers get writer's block? For me there seems to be some reoccurring reasons. Sometimes, I get stuck on a problem with the story, like a plot point or character issue. Those blocks are the easiest to defeat because once I figure out how to solve the problem, the block ends. Other times, it seems like I suddenly can only write garbage, but I can't be sure if I'm actually writing garbage or if I've been struck with a terrible case of self-doubt. These types of blocks pass once I regain my confidence and get over whatever is causing my doubt.

One of the harder blocks I get comes from working too much and too hard until I'm all frenzied. Often times my husband has to force me to take a day off. Once I do that, I'll be able to work again. Problem is that when I'm that worked up, taking a day off sounds ridiculous and I don't want to try. When I'm finally forced to try, I'm so worked up all I do is fret and pace all day instead of taking a break.

The worst of the worst kind of blocks, though, are the ones that either accompany or cause an existential crisis. I cannot overcome the block until I overcome the crisis. The crisis is usually a result of too much self-doubt or actual life stuff, like medical problems, getting older, or the death of a loved one. These are the worst blocks I have, and I'm afraid that's exactly what I've got right now.

The solution, as far as I can tell, is getting off my unhinged emotional butt and and getting over it. It's easy to say but not always easy to do. The good news is I think I'm approaching the end. I've taken time off, I've relaxed, I've meditated, and I've mourned. I still have some existential quandaries rolling around in my head, but I think I'm starting to find my answers. Hopefully by next month's newsletter, I'll report lots of writing bliss. In fact I think I'm ready to do some work right now. =)

If you are struggling with writer's block, I recommend The 3 a.m. Epiphany by Brian Kiteley or check out some of my recommendations for reading up on the masters of fiction for inspiration or my own method of inspiration.

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