Dealing with Writer’s Block

Block (n): an obstacle to the normal progress or functioning of something.

What happens when you’re stuck with writer’s block? If you spend any time reading or listening to published authors give advice to aspiring authors, then you’ve encountered the phrase “just keep writing,” which to me translates to “every author should write even when they don’t feel like it.”

Even though I’ve repeatedly heard this advice, I have never understood it. It didn’t make sense to me that you should push on when you didn’t have anything to write. I have heard it compared to exercising a muscle in this way: If you don’t exercise your writing muscles, then they gradually decrease in strength. As a former athlete, the muscle analogy made sense to me. Sadly, I only understood it in the sport sense. I still did not understand it in the writing sense of the advice.

In my head, it didn’t compute that forcing yourself to put words on a page was going to help develop your style or help complete a project. It didn’t make sense to me simply because I could never get anywhere using that method. Whenever I struggled and tried to force myself to write, I stayed mired in my funk and couldn’t get much (if anything) onto the page.

This post is an example. I started attempting to write something last week… But I didn’t have an idea, and since I didn’t have an idea, I spent way too much time staring at my computer, wishing I had something to say.

Finally, I had the small thought to write about writer’s block, since I was struggling so much.  And that’s how this post came into being. I’ve spent a long time on it. I wasn’t sure how to explain my thoughts, but I decided to “exercise my muscles” and try anyways.

During this process, I thought about a line I read in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and I finally understood why “just writing” actually made a little bit of sense.

“This wasn’t good, but it was something. Cath could always change it later. That was the beauty of stacking up words. They became cheaper the more you had of them. It would feel good to come back and cut this part out when she had worked her way to something new.

For me, writing will always be a struggle. Sometimes even when I have an idea, I can’t get my thoughts to translate to something I can write down. Sometimes my mind just has a block.

However, I’m beginning to understand that I can get around the block simply by writing something, even if it’s insignificant, because I can eventually work my way to something new. The more I write, the better I will become. Writing may never get truly easier, but I can become a better scribbler.

Maybe what I’m getting at here is that we have to struggle with something at one point or another. Sometimes, all we need to do is make an attempt. It won’t necessarily get easier, but we can become better humans in the meantime.

Here’s to you, friend. Do what you love.