On That Malicious Thing Called Writer’s Block

You know that wretched feeling. You’ve had it too, just admit it. Or at least I hope so, because otherwise I’ll have to feel doubly bad about having it myself. I’m talking about the terrible, despicable, malevolent malady that cuts your wings while at the same time it mocks you unendingly for your pathetic inability to fly. I’m talking about that voice that coaxes you to create, while simultaneously locking your hands behind your back and whispering discouraging degradations in your ear. I’m talking, of course, about writer’s block.

I know I’ve suffered from it before, and many times at that. It’s just that every time it passes I tend to forget it was ever there. It’s like my mind’s trying to block out the memory of that terrible state, in naïve hope that it won’t come back if I hide from it (and even the memory of it) well enough. And maybe this is actually a good way to tackle it, but in that case I’ve never managed to find a sufficiently good hiding spot. Because it always comes back.

The downside to this memory repressing approach is that every time writer’s block returns to once again grip me with its poisonous claws, I tend to panic. Why can’t I write? Why do I suddenly want to throw up at the mere thought of GM:ing? Where the fuck is my inspiration? I can’t remember just how bad it was last time, or the time before that, and thus I have no frame of reference to help me understand that this time around won’t be the end of the world either. That it will pass and that my inspiration (together with my incurable creative hubris) will return once again. Of course I know this, theoretically, but I can’t see it.

The current blockage has been a long one. I’m always at my most creative during autumn and early winter. That’s when magic happens. But this year not much writing happened even then. Well, of course writing happened — I’m a journalist after all. But now I’m talking about creative writing; that kind of writing that flows from your soul and builds worlds — not just documents them. I’ve managed to force some pages from my mind, but that’s all. I haven’t been able to fly for almost a year now, and it bothers me to the brink of madness.

I blame two culprits for this. The first one’s name is burnout, and the other one is called performance anxiety. I hit the proverbial wall in late 2015 and haven’t quite recovered yet (but that’s another story). My mind seems to have coped with this by locking off certain areas and gearing down. Together with a tendency of mine never to settle for anything less than perfect, this is a flawless recipe for creative shortage.

Now the mere thought of sitting down to write makes my mental safeguard put its hand on the emergency brake. Because I tell myself, deep down, that I can’t produce. That I won’t be able to live up to the stuff I’ve written in the past. That I might as well stare into a wall as try to create something, because it will amount to about the same result in the end. Writing has become so charged for me that I’m almost afraid of trying — because failing would kind of be the last drop. So I don’t write, I stare into walls instead.

Now I’m also well aware that this, too, will pass. Everything passes. But maybe it’s high time for me to work out some kind of strategy for coping with the malady of writer’s block, so that I’ll be able to handle it better next time it happens — whatever the reason it does. I’ll need to de-dramatize writing in my own mind as well, of course. I have to learn to settle for less-than-perfect, since that is perhaps one of my greatest problems. But that, too, is another story.

I think my next step will be to make a list of things that I can do to find an outlet for my creative urges, that don’t require me to write fabulous epics or game-mastering intricate RPG:s. Yeah, that’s what I will do. I guess I’ll post the list as a blog post once it’s done, so that you’ll be able to see what I came up with.

And finally, writing this post was in itself a part of my coping strategy. Without thinking about it I have actually been able to write more than 700 words without those stupid claws poking at me. Yay! And also: now I have clear as day documentation about this round of writer’s block actually having happened. Now I won’t be able to pretend that it has never befallen me before the next time around. Score.

Now that you have bravely trudged yourself through this my helplessly self centered wall of text, what do you think? Have you ever felt those restricting claws poking at you, and how did you tackle it? If you have any great, good or perfectly average coping techniques for dealing with writer’s block — please let me know. They’d make a wonderful contribution to my upcoming list. 🙂

And until next time: write safely.
Dreams is a dangerous place, after all.

 

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Published by

voeko

Chris is a freelance writer struggling with the novel that will make them an author.

16 thoughts on “On That Malicious Thing Called Writer’s Block”

  1. Great soul-bearing post about a common writer malady. When I can’t progress in one of my long-term, long-scope projects, I like to experiment with flash fiction prompts. My favorites come from author Chuck Wendig’s blog at terribleminds dot com. He posts them somewhat regularly on Fridays. His prompts have fueled nearly all of the flash stories I’ve posted on my own blog. If you’re interested in that sort of short-format exercise, I think it’s a great way to think outside the box, perhaps dabble in genres one wouldn’t normally write, and recharge the creative batteries. Maybe a prompt will even spark an idea for a WIP and help break through a bout of writer’s block!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And thank you for the tip about Chuck Wendig’s writing prompts, I’ll definitely check out that link! I’ve been doing some prompts in the past, mainly from Reddit’s forum r/WritingPrompts/, and thought that it was really fun and helpful. I’ll try taking the prompts up again. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment! 🙂

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  2. The whole forgetting about writer’s block is a really interesting point… If we could somehow come to terms with it as part of a cycle of productivity instead of this horrible thing that happens to us, maybe we could deal with it better.
    Thanks for writing!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for commenting! And yeah, I really hope and think so. Ignoring or forgetting about it hasn’t worked very well this far in my book, at least. Somehow just writing this text actually eased my block a bit, so maybe it was a good method (for me at least) worth remembering. Thank you again! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yay! I’m glad you’re finding things that are helping, even if it’s only a little. It seems like the more we can understand our own writing processes consciously, the better we’ll be able to write. Easier said than done… 😉

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  3. I dont suffer from writer’s block, I enjoy it immensely…. I usually take it as a sign that I am in want of a much needed breAK or that the I am going about the work in progress the wrong way… I find writing fun and when it stops being fun and more a chore (thats when i will be dipping my toes in the block pool)
    So I break and do fun stuff and when I am done… usually I will have figured out something or other…
    And I always remember something about how you’ve never heard of anyone who says they are not talking because they haveTalker’s Block …………hmmmmmmm
    ~B

    PS I also have a post about writer’s block somewhere on my blog ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed reading this reply immensely. I’ve actually never looked at it that way, that writer’s block might be a good thing – or a sign of anything. I will definitely take this to heart. And your point about “talker’s block” is brilliant. When you don’t feel like talking, you don’t. And it’s no big deal. Why should writing be any different. I shall remember these words of wisdom, and I will definitely try to find that blog post of yours on your page! Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome… well I wouldnt call them words of wisdom as such just things I have observed…. but hey whats wisdom but simply lessons learnt… usually the hard way too☻☺
        ~B

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My strategy is very simple: I do something else.
    It helps that I know that these things come and go. I’m mostly able to flow with what is, and when I can’t, well, then it’s either meditation time, or meltdown time. Meltdowns too both come and go. And everything’s a meditation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This, I think, is a very good strategy. Also remembering that it will pass is a really good piece of advice. I need to get better at those two things. Maybe meditation would actually help… Thank you for commenting and for sharing your strategies! Much appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My block is burnout, I’m always so busy working, I know I could write in transit but I don’t feel focused there, and then when I finally get home I’m working on home chores and then– I just get so tired…oh and I do have performance anxiety too, but that sometimes might be me feeling that the world doesn’t deserve my story because people are mean, or I don’t know, maybe sometimes I feel that I’m just too stupid. And so I read instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you on this, totally. Stress and burnout are two of my personal gargoyles as well. There just always seems to be so much “importantness” to accomplish before I get to that calm writing time, that when (and if) I finally get there I’m too tired to do anything constructive with it.

      And people can be mean, yes, but you are definitely not stupid. At all. Performance anxiety is a real thing, though, and I can absolutely empathize. I hope you get your writing time this summer, and that you don’t let mean people drag you down. I always enjoy your tweets, and will keep checking out your blog as well! 🙂

      Thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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