You sit at your desk, light on, fresh coffee steaming to your left, and a blank screen burning holes into your corneas. You’ve finally made time to write, and your mind goes completely blank. You know it well, it’s a well feared plague among writers everywhere. Writer’s block.
While I myself am not a long form writer, I obviously am around them often enough to see it happen on a regular basis, and to see more, “How To Get Over Writer’s Block” posts to vom. Oddly enough, I’m pretty sure I know exactly what it feels like.
I’m a runner….sometimes. I love running, but I also hate it. When I actually drag myself outside and hit the pavement, I always come back with a runner’s high and a new dedication to the activity and wonder why I don’t do it every single day. Then the next day rolls around and it’s like pulling teeth from an angry polar bear to get myself to lace up my sneakers.
If I don’t run for a few days, it’s even harder to get myself to do it. However when I suck it up and run for a handful of days in a row, it gets easier to convince myself to do. I get over the initial abhorrence of how slow I’ve become, how fast I tire, because I can feel myself improving. This is near identical to how the writing mind works. The human brain is a muscle just like everything else, if you are not stretching it, not exercising it every day (and not just to do your taxes), it seemingly becomes harder to do.
Laziness begets laziness, and while I’m not saying writer’s block is necessarily an issue of laziness, it breeds in the same way. IF you can force yourself to write every day or near that for an extended period of time, it will become second nature, a habit, and the writer’s block will eventually be replaced with a sort of creative autopilot. You have to train yourself to be in a creative state of mind by putting yourself in that position and just frakking doing it day after day. I understand it’s impossible for most people to carve out 5 hours of writing time every day, what with life, work, children, parents, school etc etc. Duration doesn’t necessarily matter as much as doing. Just grab 20 mins here, 50 minutes there, but do it. Any day you aren’t going to write needs to be a day where you are expanding your mind and creativity a little bit. Have a parent-teacher conference that cuts into your writing time. FINE. See if you can chat with some of the kids or parents to help gain insight into your MG character or that stressed adult protag you just can’t seem to bring to life. As a writer you have two responsibilities. To write often, and often enough that you better yourself little by little, and to live. To live in a way that broadens your perceptions of people, behavior, and the world itself, so that when you do write, you are speaking authentically and realistically.
Not every aspect of your novel needs to be method written (in fact, please do not write from experience if your character is, say, a serial killer), but you do need to keep your creativity and mental writer alive and interested enough that you can sit down every day and write something. I don’t care if you end up spending most the time writing about the quirky old lady down the street instead of your fantasy WIP, just keep writing until you’re inspired enough to finish that sentence, that chapter, the book, that series.
Live long and prosper. And write.