As a writer, I’m sure that you’ve heard other writer’s complain about “writer’s block”. You’ve hit that brick wall before. I’m sure you’ve read numerous articles on how to cure writer’s block. And yet, the “muse is silent” or “can’t seem to put ‘pen to paper’”.
Guess what? There’s no such thing as writer’s block, or at least the “writer’s block” that so many writers imagine.
Writer’s block doesn’t swoop down (or up) and sit in your mind and keep you from letting the words flow. It’s not a dam, clogging the words that you so desperately want to get on paper. It’s not a malevolent external force over which you have no control.
Writer’s block is like the Force: It’s in you.
Writer’s block is fear. Fear of judgment by others about the crazy story with too much sex you just wrote. Fear of ridicule about that ridiculous storyline about the talking garbage can that saved children from drowning. Fear of failure: this great story that you just outlined? You won’t finish. Fear of ‘not being good enough’ and/or envy: you see everywhere that writers are finishing their fifth, fifteenth, thirtieth book and you’re still chugging along on your second. Or you’re unpublished and have a stack of “no thanks” rejections to prove it.
It’s in you. Your fears, your shortcomings, your trepidation of….whatever. It’s a mind block.
And guess what? It could also be a physical manifestation of issues.
Brain feel fogged? A while ago I wrote a post on Herbs for Clarity that helped me break through a brain block that I suffered through a while ago. Since then, I’ve paid close attention to my body. Remember that old adage, “Garbage in, garbage out”. Yeah. It’s totally true.
Whenever I feel “writer’s blockish” I immediately get up from the computer and run down my three point checklist, kind of like the twenty nine points of inspection they claim to give you “for free” when you buy new tires. (I don’t believe they check all that, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, shall we?)
1. Am I dehydrated?
According to some sources, this past July was the hottest July on record here in the Northeast. Keeping hydrated is important at any time of the year, but easy to forget. Feeling fogged? Have a glass of water. Then, drink another. The brain is 70% water (http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html) . Keep it juiced, folks.
2. Am I eating too much junk food?
Sitting and snacking at the computer while you furiously pound out your next masterpiece is something that too many of us do. It’s easy, it’s quick and it keeps us from wandering away in the middle of a scene. I’m sure if you could get over the embarrassment of wearing an adult diaper, someone would do that too. Anything to keep from getting up.
You’ve heard this before, I know, I know, but in order to keep your body (which by the way includes your brain) in top working condition, you’ve got to feed it the food it needs, which doesn’t include copious amounts of cheese curls and chocolate. Ditto for the take-out fast food that you’re eating because ‘you just don’t have the time to cook’. (This goes for you dolls AND guys out there, because I don’t discriminate when it comes to cooking.)
Feed your body the vegetables, meat, dairy, vitamins, whatever, that it needs. If that means grilled tofu and Brussels sprouts, or a thick steak, potatoes and spinach, so be it. Just make sure you eat right. Keep the chocolate, candy, chips and soda to a minimum.
3. Am I spending too much time on social media?
Let’s face it, if you are in certain communities, everyone is promoting something. It’s the nature of the beast. Too much of that flow on Twitter, Facebook, wherever, can be detrimental to your sense of well-being. Look! So and so is promoting their twentieth book! Jack be nimble has made over 30 trillion sales TODAY of his new book! Amy is going to let you in on HER secret to selling 7 gazillion books in just one month!
Move away, back off. THEY are not YOU. YOU are not THEM. This is a good time to exercise a little tunnel vision, especially when you’re in a low spot in your own creativity. Go you own pace. Stay in your own lane. Stop watching other people. DO what you DO and be happy with that.
Spending too much time on social media means that you’re spending time away from your work in progress, or from doing something that is healthy for you like exercising or pondering nature. Keep it to a minimum.
Best way to beat writer’s block? Keep it from happening. Keep yourself healthy and wise, and do what works for you.