This can be seen as the spiritual successor to my previous post, “How to Write an Epic Book and Actually Finish It.” In this post I want to talk specifically about writer’s block and how you can overcome it, rather than discussing what I spoke of before – how you should approach and finish projects.
What is writer’s block?
Make no mistake, writer’s block is not funny. It will be the thing that kills your chances of writing anything worth reading, let alone being able to make money from your craft. Yet, it’s really not what you think. Writer’s block is something of an enigma. In my opinion, it’s mostly an excuse for laziness and lack of motivation. Whether you get caught in “writer’s block” is probably reflective of your desire to actually finish your project.
“Writer’s block” in some ways separates the men from the boys in this craft. Who will have the fortitude to see a project through to the end and who will fail? In some ways, this also, to use more “politically correct” language, separates the professional writers from the mere hobbyists.
Writer’s block, in the largest way, is a matter of perspective.
If you’re not a professional writer, you should at least treat your projects as if you were. I assume that’s what you want for them, anyway. If you’re simply treating your project as a hobby, you’re not going to take it as seriously. As such, you’re probably going to suffer from “writer’s block,” that intangible wall blocking your inspiration and your ability to push your project forward.
Act like a professional and you will write like a professional. Your project might even seem to write itself. Act like a hobbyist and you’ll write like a hobbyist. At the first ounce of hardship, you are prone to retreat. Writer’s block just pops up as an excuse.
By “act like a professional,” I mean that you should spend most of your creative energies on your project, as I outlined in the previous article. You probably aren’t a professional writer. Yet. I’m not. You can still have a “real job” but you can nonetheless still act like a professional.
And that means writing constantly – whether a set amount of words per day or my own method (a page an hour). If you have a blog, it means keeping to a schedule, even if you need to force yourself to do so (if you notice, I always try to do two original posts a week, set for Wednesday and Saturday ideally). It also means that you really care about your work and want to make it as beautiful as you can. In other words, you want to create something worthy to last forever.
When you act like this, something amazing happens. “Writer’s block” disappears, and your project, big or small, almost writes itself. The rough edges get smoothed out, the potholes in the plot fill themselves out, and it turns out better than you thought possible.
In sum, to get over writer’s block, you need to have the right perspective. Treat your work as a professional would – that means writing constantly. By writing constantly, you’re forcing yourself to put your ideas to paper and most inspirational blocks will disappear, as you think of new ways to plug the gaps and get your work written.
Act like a writer and you’ll think like one. Acting like a writer means you write constantly. Act like a hobbyist and that’s how you’ll think. Don’t be surprised if you get writer’s block as a result.