Writers block - What is it?
It's when a writer thinks - "I just can't think of a single thing to write - I'm out of here!"
Does this sound familiar? No? Of course it does! Everyone has experienced this phenomenon when we absolutely must write something, particularly on a deadline. I am talking about. . . . .oh, I can't even begin to think of what the words are .. . oh, yes, it's on the tip of my tongue . . . it's:
Wow! I feel better just getting that out and down onto the page! Writers block is the patron demon of the blank page. You might imagine that you know EXACTLY what you are going to write, but as soon as that evil white screen appears, your mind suddenly goes totally blank. I am not talking about Zen meditation or stare at the ceiling type of blank. I am talking about sweat trickling down the back of your neck, anguish and panic and really suffering type of blank. The tighter the deadline, the worse the anxiety that is writers block.
Having said that, let me repeat it: the tighter the deadline, the worse the anguish of writers block. Now, can you fathom what might be the cause of this horrible plunge into speechlessness?
The answer is pretty obvious: FEAR! You are afraid of that blank page. You are afraid that you have nothing of value to say. You are afraid of the fear of writer's block itself!
It does not necessarily matter if you have completed a decade of research and now all you have to do is string sentences that you can repeat in your sleep together into coherent paragraphs. Writers block can strike anyone, anytime. Based in fear, it raises our doubts about our own self-worth, but it is sneaky. It is writers block, after all, so it does not just come straight out and let you realise that. Oh no, it makes you feel like an idiot who just had your frontal lobes removed through your sinuses. So if you were to dare put forth words into the universe, they would surely come out as absolute gibberish!
Let us try to be rational with this irrational demon. Let us first make a list of what might possibly be behind this terrible and terrifying condition.
1. Being a perfectionist. You clearly must produce a masterpiece of literature immediately in the firstdraft. If you do not, you qualify as a complete failure.
2. Being an editor rather than a composer. There is your tormentor sitting on your shoulder, screaming as soon as you begin to type "I was born....," no, not that, that can't be right! That's stupid! Correct, correct, correct again!
3. Being self-conscious. How can you think, let alone write, when all you can manage to do is wish you could strangle yourself? You are notfocusing on what you are trying to write, you are instead focusing on those imaginary fingers around your throat.
4. Being unable to even start. It is always, always, always the first sentence that is the hardest. As writers, we all know just how VERY important is the first sentence. It just has to be brilliant. It has to be unique. It has to grab your reader's attentioin and imagination from the very start! You just cannot get into writing the piece until you master this seemingly impossible first sentence.
5. Being unfocussed. Your dog is sick. You suspect / know that your partner is cheating on you. Your electricity / gas supply might be turned off at any moment. You have a crush on the mailman / woman. You have a dinner party coming up that you have planned for your in-laws. This and any of another thousand problems may preoccupy your mind. Need I go on? How can you possibly concentrate with all these distractions?
6. Being guilty of Procrastination. You are a past master as it is your favourite hobby. It affects everything you do - or rather, that you don't do. It is the reason why you pay monthly for gym membership but never get round to going. It is the reason why you can never get into all of your clothes but have a larder full of slimmer's meals.
Just face up to it - it is another reason why you suffer from writers block.
Overcoming Writers Block
Right. I can visualise the scene as you distance yourself from this statement as quickly as humanly possible. Nonsense you cry. Never in a million years, you blurt out. Writers block is undeniably, utterly scientifically proven to be absolutely impossible to overcome.
Oh, come on! OK, I dare say it is not so very easy. But do try to sit down for just a few minutes and allow me to continue. All you need to do is read. You do not have to write a single word. There you all are again. I can just about make you all out now that the cloud of dust is beginning to settle.
I can categorically tell you that WRITERS BLOCK CAN BEOVERCOME. Please, remain seated. There are ways of course to fool this nasty demon. Choose one, choose several, and give them a try. Pretty soon, before you have even had a chance for your heartbeat to accelerate, guess what? You will be writing.
Here are some much tried and tested methods of overcoming writers block:
1. First of all you must be prepared. "The only thing to fear is Fear itself". (I know, that is a cliche but as soon as you begin to write, please feel free to improve upon it.) If you were to spend some time considering your topic before you actually sit down to write, you would be able to overcome the worst of the crippling panic that is writers block.
2. Try to forget you are a perfectionist. No one ever writes a true masterpiece in the very first draft. Do not place any expectations on your writing. instead, tell yourself that you are about to write absolute garbage, but then give yourself permission to stink out your designated writing room.
3. Be a composer instead of editor. Never, ever write your first draft with your mind sitting on yourshoulder making snide editorial comments. Composing isa magical process. It surpasses the conscious mind bygalaxies. It's even incomprehensible to the conscious,editorial, monkey-mind. So prepare an ambush. Sit downat your computer or your desk. Take a deep breath andblow out all your thoughts. Let your finger hover overyour keyboard or pick up your pen. And then pull afake: appear to be about to begin to write, butinstead, using your thumb and index finger of yourdominant hand, flick that little annoying ugly monkeyback into the barrel of laughs it came from. Then jumpin ? quickly! Write, scribble, scream, howl, leteverything loose, as long as you do it with a pen oryour computer keyboard.
4. Forget the first sentence. You can sweat over that all-important one-liner when you have ve finished your writing. Leave it for the time being. Instead go for the middle or even the end. Begin writing wherever you can. The chances are that when you read it over, the first line will be blinking its little ligh at you from the depths of your creation.
5. Concentration. This is a hard one. Life throws us all so many distractions and challenges. Think about your writing time as a little break from all those irritating worries. Forget them! Create a space, maybe even a physical one, where nothing exists except task in hand. If one of those annoying worries gets to you, crush as some might crush an ugly bug!
6. Stop procrastinating. Write an outline. Keep your research notes within sight. Use someone else's writing to get going. Scribble mindlessly on paper or on the computer if you have to.
Just go for it! (I know, I probably borrowed that line from somewhere.). Get down anything that can possibly assist in getting you started. Notes, picuters, drafts, outlines. Put the cookie, cake or biscuit you are going to allow yourself to eat once you have finished your first draft within sight. However, it should be out of reach. Pick up an example of the same type of writing that you need to write, and read it. Then read it again. Soon you will find the fear will slowly dissolve. Once it does, sieze your keyboard and start writing.