Overcoming the REAL Writer’s Block

Whenever my authors tell me they have writer’s block, I want to slap them. Physically. In the face. As hard as I can.

I can’t repeat this often enough: There is no such thing as writer’s block.

The term literally means you cannot write. Period. You are incapable of writing anything at all.

And unless you have absolutely no way of communicating—whether it’s writing on paper, typing on an electronic device, recording your voice, or even blinking out one letter at a time—you CAN write.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes it’s harder than others, and (often) what you write won’t exactly be great literature.

Right now, for example, I’m having some trouble myself.

It was a long, hot summer here in New Jersey and (unlike most people) I always get a little depressed during the brighter, warmer months, so this year has been even worse for me than usual. Even the much-longed-for official arrival of autumn hasn’t done much to lift my spirits.

Like anything else, depression can become a habit if you let it go on long enough. And I’ve been letting it go on too long. WAY too long. I know it and I’m (slowly) trying to wrap my head around the idea of finally trying to fight it.

It’s the same with writing. If you find yourself having trouble (or claiming to have writer’s block—here’s your face slap, by the way!), you need to avoid letting that difficulty turn into a long-term habit. The easiest way (surprise!) is to write something—at least a little bit, whether it’s part of your work in progress or not—every single day.

No matter how busy I am—and no matter how cripplingly depressed (like I am at the moment)—I still force myself write at least a page every day.

That page might be part of a new scene for a novel I’m working on. It might be a response to a writing prompt I’ve found in a book or online. It might be a quirky observation about a stranger I noticed while taking a walk around town. Or, more likely these days, it might be a rambling list of complaints about my life and all the reasons I’m so sad and miserable.

It doesn’t matter what it is. My point is that it’s writing, and if I’m able to crank out my daily page (or more) even while I’m sobbing over the sorry state of my life, then I think I’ve proved my point: There IS no writer’s block.

If you’re feeling unmotivated, just take out a nonthreatening old-school composition book (use wide-ruled to make the page fill up faster) and scribble out a few words—any words.

Look around your room and write about what you see: “My walls are white and my clock is dusty. I really should have made my bed this morning. How long has that coffee mug been sitting, unwashed, on the edge of my desk?”

Write anything. Just write something.

It’s the only way to remind your brain that even when your muse has decided to take an extended vacation and has left you completely on your own without any words to play with, you’re still a writer.

Just write. It’s the only way to overcome the REAL writer’s block: yourself.

Share on