“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”
For this first installment of First draft, I want to say a thing or two about our common enemy: writer’s block. We fear it, dread it and even loathe it. When I first started writing, I had this cocky belief that writer’s block would never really affect me. I would always be full of ideas and fresh insight! I was wrong. Not only has it been an ever constant battle, it has been so severe at times that it has shaken my confidence and made me wonder if I’d ever write again.
Terrible, isn’t it? So, what are the tips? What are the tricks?
My first tip is to just keep writing. I know how daunting this is, because it’s usually the last thing you want to do when you’ve got nothing left upstairs. But, it’s like facing a fear – you just gotta do it. A friend once told me, “A writer must write to be called a writer.” Maybe you’ll end up deleting it later, but it could get your creative juices flowing enough to find exactly what you wanted to say.
To practice this, try writing simple sentences that describe exactly how you’re feeling. Something like, “I want to write about love and how it looks in a marriage, but I have no idea where to even begin. I know it takes two people being intentional, listening to each other. Maybe it even takes some divine intervention…” See? If I wanted to, I could continue that train of thought and get down a first draft. Most likely it won’t be pretty, as first drafts rarely are, but this will give you a good starting point for the next time you sit down to write.
If that’s not working, my second tip is to simply take a break. Get up, stretch your legs, and do something else entirely. Try not to think about it and get your mind working on other things. Go for a run, get out on the lake, climb in the mountains, or go surfing. Bring a little pad of paper and a pen along so you can jot down any thoughts you have along the way. My husband continues to tell me that “experience fuels the creative fire.” I think he’s spot on.
At the end of the day, if we are able to take a step back and look at the big picture, writer’s block is pretty simple: we are out of creative juices. Don’t force it or stress if you’ve hit a stopping point. But also never give up. Even if a month goes by and you’ve got nothing, keep trying. Words will come.
In summary, don’t panic. Feel special! It happens to every single writer alive. You’re one of us, and you’re going to make it.