Writer’s block can totally derail your first draft or motivate you to push through. The following article talks about how to avoid writer’s block so you can push through the tough times and finally finish your story.
What is Writer’s Block
Some will tell you that writer’s block isn’t real, and that’s true to an extent. The part they don’t tell you is that it’s a mind game and all you have to do to overcome it is to learn the tricks to avoid writer’s block or quickly recognize when it’s hit your productivity. By doing this, you can accept the circumstance and get right back on track!
Two amazing books about overcoming writer’s block are Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance by Tarcher Perigee, and The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.
The 5 Stages of Writer’s Block
We’re often filled with boundless amounts of excitement when we’re starting a brand-new project, and why shouldn’t we be? It’s something shiny and fun and entirely ours to explore. You’ll find yourself writing at every given breath and jotting down character details and ideas in your notebook like it’s going out of style.
These are the moments of pure joy when our passion shines the brightest. But with that excitement comes the next phase…
This phase happens after you’ve hit that threshold of ideas and they aren’t coming out as easily as they once were. You’ve likely spent weeks or months jotting down every idea and forming story arcs and subplots. You’ve might have even started writing the novel and, after you’ve gotten passed blank-page syndrome, are chugging through the first twenty-thousand words or so.
You’re still excited during this phase, but it’s waning, until…
This typically happens once you’ve reached the middle of Act Two and you’re moving along. Maybe a battle just happened, and momentum has waned. Maybe you’ve finalized a plot point, or a twist is looming and you’re having difficulty building to it. Maybe your fingers are just plain tired.
No matter the reason, frustration builds, and this is when writer’s block most often comes into play. This is when you’re stuck. You find yourself writing three words, then hunting for your phone to open Instagram or Pinterest hoping they have the inspirational answers you seek.
Unfortunately, this can last weeks or months—it depends on you. The first step is accepting you have a problem. Only from there can you move forward.
The key to overcoming and avoiding writer’s block is acceptance. This happens in more of an epiphany-type moment when we just realize our story won’t write itself. But it might also happen after a series of realizations.
If you find yourself stuck in Frustration-mode, using these 13 tips to overcome writer’s block is an important step to defeating a writer’s nemesis.
After these realizations happen and acceptance is reached, you’ll have the enlightenment to move forward into the next phase.
After the long slog between excitement and acceptance, you’ll find that progress is what drives you through the end of your novel.
When it comes to writers being “unable to finish” their manuscript or they say the “story is just taking so long to get down”, what they’re really saying is that they either aren’t making the time to write, or they haven’t gotten passed the frustrated-at-my-manuscript stage of the writing process.
Did you catch that? Where I insinuated that writer’s block is just another step in a writer’s process. Because it totally is, and we have to learn to overcome it to avoid it.
Why Writer’s Block Happens
You refused to outline your book.
This one is mostly for plotters or people who don’t think they’re plotters but totally are because pantsers have their own preferences when it comes to outlining their WIPs. If you’re having trouble slogging through your novel, and you haven’t outlined, consider trying it. Even if you think you’re a pantser, it might be something worth considering.
You made unrealistic goals.
Making realistic and 100% attainable goals is key to achieving them. When we aren’t realistic with ourselves, we build ourselves up to do more than we actually can, which often leads to let-down, stress, and sometimes even burnout.
You’re on the road to burnout… Or you’re already there.
Like I mentioned in my last point, burnout is a real thing, and it doesn’t just happen to writers, but people from all walks. There are several key things when it comes to burnout but recognizing the chronic fatigue and sheer lack of motivation on things that have brought you pleasure and comfort in the past are two things that might signal burnout.
You forgot your WHY.
We never want to lose our “why”. When we get so caught up in just finishing our novels, sometimes we forget that the entire reason we wanted to write in the first place. And it’s in those moments that the why is most important.
You saw something newer, or shinier.
This happens all the time. When we’re working, working, working on something and then this awesome new idea just jumps into your head. And while I always encourage indulging new ideas, so you don’t lose them, it’s also best practice to keep in control of all your ideas and the actions they prompt.
Different from burnout and different from stress, self-doubt is something many people (not just writers) suffer from. It happens when we let too many people speak for us, instead of recognizing how amazing and powerful we actually are. Always remember, people can talk and act any way they want, but only you choose how you perceive yourself and how you are perceived by the world.
If you know what to look for and understand why it happens, writer’s block is easily avoidable. What’s most important is focusing on one thing at a time and producing the best you can, at the level you’re at. How long something takes isn’t as important as the journey it took to get there, and it surely isn’t as important as the final product.
If you can write a book in 30 days, totally go for it. But don’t stress if you only write a few chapters a week. A few chapters is always better than zero.