The Truth About Writer's Block
Writer's block isn't something you can trick your mind out of. No change of scenery can fix what's really wrong.
Whether you're a seasoned writer or novice blogger, there is a mutual enemy that we all live in fear of - writer's block. In fact, I had a little writer's block while deciding what my first blog topic would be. Then I remembered something Bukowski said:
"Writing about writer's block is better than not writing at all."
So, here we are.
One of my biggest pet peeves is all those "writer's block" tips that circulate the web all the time.
...Go for a walk.
...Spend time with friends.
...Change your environment
Bullshit. If you're anything like me, the worst part about writer's block is the tremendous pressure to get past it. Throw in a content quota or a hanging deadline and you've got all the ingredients for a mental breakdown. Writer's block, in other words, is performance anxiety. It's the pressure to top the last thing you wrote that overshadows your freedom. Freedom requires the acceptance of failure. When failure becomes the enemy we become our biggest critic. Next thing you know, you're deleting that pitiful sentence you just wrote.
It's time to release yourself from this cycle.
How To Embrace The Block
The reason I don't like writer's block "solutions" is that they tend to ignore what writer's blog is at it's core. You've actually just lost the desire to write (*gasp* what did she say?). If you wanted to write, you would be face-to-screen, banging away at your keyboard tapped into your inner-most thoughts. Sometimes (read: most of the time) the best medicine is to give yourself a break. A real break. If you can take a week off from writing - take a week. If you can take off a month - take a month. Your talents won't disappear because you put the habit down for minute. If you're someone with daily article deadlines, talk to your editor and be honest. Creative burnout is a form of anxiety and forcing yourself to push past it boarders on self-abuse.
Sit back, pull away from the laptop and turn off your social media notifications. Stop reading everything President Trump did this week. Ignore non-urgent texts and allow yourself to settle into a new normal. Sure you can go for that walk and chill with that friend too. But first set your intentions. This break isn't for your next article, it's for your own self-care. It's because you accept that your worth isn't hinged on your ability to create.
Say it out loud, "I don't feel like writing today."
Get Your Book Game Up
Something else that can make or break your ability to write is how much you read. Not your Instagram feed, not the show notes under this week's podcast episode - but actual books. Books that align with the kind of content you write. If you're a Lifestyle blogger - dive into some DIY or self-help books. If you write about celebrity gossip, read the auto-biography of some scandalous celebrity. If you're plotting your way through a novel, read some gritty fiction with well-established characters.
The point isn't to siphon new ideas but to re-train your mind to start something and then finish it.
Its the digital age, we all have the attention span of a gnat. No wonder we get burned out so often - we've forgotten how to stick to anything that isn't overtly stimulating. Books are the intellectual boot-camp your atrophied brain muscles crave.
That Old Thing Back
It might not feel like it today, but you will write again. When you do, give yourself the space to explore new areas of your creativity. Try a new writing style or approach this time around. You got into the rut to begin with because whatever you were doing was repetitive and boring. Take the writer's block as a sign from the universe to shake things up.
Challenge yourself, rise to the occasion - repeat.
So, yes - walk, read, chat, meditate...do all the things the internet suggests you try. But also try this. Just allow yourself to be blocked. Put down your laptop or your pen and let go of your obligation to be a creative genius. Go be blah for a while and let the world deal.