Getting Past Writer’s Block

In Writing Advice by TravisLeave a Comment

Do you ever doubt why you write fiction? Does that doubt hang you up and cause writer’s block? Time to Stop.

Writer’s block stinks, as every fiction writer knows. You want to put words on the page, but for some reason you’re getting so hung up on the act of writing that you can’t do it. It feels like someone’s telling you to scale a high wall with your feet tied together. There’s. Just. No. Way.

Well, I think that most of the blockage stems from self-doubt. It comes down to an internal monologue that’s negative. It’s not the same as being in a creative hiatus, when you’re happily taking a break from writing to let the juices flow. THAT is positive. Writer’s block is bad because it feels bad, and all of us deserve to feel good. So, time to “author up” and really try to get over it.

Here are some tips based on my own experience. After you read this, please let me know how you tackle writer’s block by leaving a comment!

1. Listen objectively to the doubting questions running through your head.

Sometimes, in dark moments of self-doubt in the past, I have asked myself these questions: Why do I write fiction? For whom? For what? Is it worth this struggle? Am I an idiot for doing something that requires me to sit alone in a room for hours, thinking about people that don’t exist, when I could be out having fun in the real world?

2. Learn to hear the negative answers you’re training yourself to believe.

When the question popped up in my mind, I’d hear an insidious, tempting answer: Maybe I should stop. Why? Because it’s so difficult much of the time. It turns me inside-out. It tires me out. It keeps me up at night and gets me up early in the morning, even on days when I could sleep late, knowing my kids are still asleep. I’m the one with the notepad out at weird moments, when everyone else is enjoying themselves. I’m the one with characters chattering in my head together over conflicts that don’t really exist. I’m obsessing over my plot one more time in front of my husband, who’s probably sick of hearing it! It sounds like I’m crazy, but I know I’m not. I’m just stupid to want to write it all down. I only live once, right? Why am I not hand gliding or playing with my kids? If I stopped writing, I’d be in better shape because I wouldn’t be sitting on my butt so often.

3. Substitute those answers with the real ones.

When I was undergoing cancer treatments four years ago, a lot of things became clear in my mind, and they included my thoughts about my fiction writing. I realized that my reasons for writing stories are absolutely simple, and are justification enough:

  • I write because I love to do it.
  • I write because it makes me happier.
  • I write because it grounds me, and enlightens me about the world.
  • I write because it’s incredibly hard work, but it’s also fun.
  • I write because I love to share life with others, even those I don’t know.
  • I write because I can, and because I can that means I’ve got a gift. My gift — my ability to sit back and look at the world from a different point of view, and then write it down — is a gift I’m supposed to share. Not everyone can do this thing. But, everyone benefits from it.
  • Without fiction writers, this world would be a completely different place, and not one I’d be so happy to live in.
  • I’m lucky to be able to write!

Try this if you doubt yourself:

Get out a scrap of paper, a pizza box, a notecard, whatever, and write down immediately why you write. Ask yourself from your heart, and answer from your heart, too. Then tape it somewhere near your desk, or carry it in your wallet or purse.

Look at it every day until you forget that you ever doubted it. remind yourself that you’re super cool because you write, and that coolness isn’t defined by sales, or number of readers, or anything else but the way it makes you feel.

I’m guessing that like me, you do it because you love it. So, go ahead and love it! Guilt free.

Why do YOU write fiction? Leave a comment below! 🙂

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