Talk to Me: Writer’s Block

Q: How do you get over writer’s block?

A: Now here is one I can relate to. I’m supposed to post five blogs a week, but that happens about 1/3 of the time. So, I definitely understand the struggle, dear reader.

There is no feeling more frustrating than staring at a blank word document for three hours or spending a week typing paragraphs and deleting them repeatedly. It makes you feel like there’s something wrong with your thinker, but I promise you, there isn’t.

I’m going to cheat a little bit here because, technically, this isn’t my advice. My favorite writing professor told us all that he doesn’t believe writer’s block exists. We are completely capable of taking a pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard and form words. We’ve been doing it since we were in kindergarten. A creative block doesn’t take away this learned ability.

He said that the key is to give yourself a daily word count. If you have lots of free time, make it 1,000. If you work a crazy job or have ten kids, make it 100 words a day. Sit down every single day and write to that word count. You can write beyond it, obviously, but always meet it.

He told us that it doesn’t matter what your word count produces. It can be the worst thing you’ve ever written. It can be a jumble of incohesive thoughts. It can be something you tear up and never look at again or revise a million times. The point is that you write every. single. day.

If you’re a runner, and you’re having trouble shaving a few seconds off your mile time, you wouldn’t take three weeks off and say, Oh, I’m sure it will happen in time. No, you would amp up your training, switch up your routine, and find ways to better yourself.

Your writing requires the same kind of training. The more you write, the easier it will come to you. Just recently, I wrote started writing poems again for the first time in two years and, while the first dozen were total crap (and arguably all of them), I’ve now written one a day for about a month. Creativity is fueled by creativity.

As a quick disclaimer, I want to be honest that is might take a while before the writing turns into something good, but don’t give up. I have folders filled with half-finished stories or blog posts that I realized were terrible after working on for weeks. Pushing yourself to be creative, even if it turns out to suck, puts your brain in a place to be working towards a great idea you haven’t had yet. I’m still waiting for my great idea. We can wait together.

Never forget the fact that you are someone who still has the ability to tap into imagination makes you incredibly special and you should constantly be working to hold on to that piece of you by honing it daily and keeping it in the front of your mind.

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