This isn’t the first draft I’ve written. It isn’t the 4th or the 5th. It’s more like the 11th or 12th. I look at the last time I wrote and I can feel the panic clawing its way to the front of my mind.
“It’s been almost two weeks since you’ve written.”
“If you want to be successful at writing you have to write!”
“Why can’t you write?”
“Think of something!”
Ideas float from the recesses of my mind to my fingers and I start to type. Before I’m even two paragraphs in I’m deleting everything. It isn’t right. This isn’t what I want to say. And all the while that phrase haunts me. If I don’t look at it, it won’t be there. If I ignore it, it’ll go away. Even now, even in this space where I’m talking about it I don’t want to write the words.
Supposedly when you put something in writing you take away its power. Not the case today. Looking at those two words is not making me feel any better. If anything I feel worse. What if I can’t think of anything to write ever again? Obviously this is a hyperbolic statement. Of course I’ll be writing again. Soon the thoughts will flow smoothly and quickly from my head to fingers to my computer screen. But beneath the hyperbolic is a fear that seems all too real.
What if I can only write when things are going poorly in my life? What if the very fact that I’m happy in most areas of my life right now means that I don’t have the ability to create good work? What if I can only write about things that outrage me? What if I’m only an “issues” writer?
I don’t believe that to create good art you have to be tortured. But when a period of writer’s block like the kind I’m in now hits me, I start to wonder if I’m the exception to that rule. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I can be driving around running errands and think of five or six blog topics. But when I sit down to write them I’m unhappy with every paragraph, every line, every word. For me writer’s block isn’t the absence of ideas. It’s almost having too many ideas. Too many ideas and none that jump out at me. There have been days when my fingers barely pause on the keyboard and when I stop to look at the word count I’m blown away. And then there are days like today when I’m laboriously trying to get more than 500 words on the page. My fingers hurt. Not from rapid typing but from constant suspension over the keyboard waiting for the words to come. And they just won’t.
I honestly don’t know what happens next. I don’t know what is going to snap me out of this writer’s block. I have no tried and true actions that jump start my mind. I’ve heard some people say that to get through writer’s block you just have to write. Even if it’s horrible write. Write whatever is in your head and don’t delete it. Just keep writing. So that’s what I’m going to do. The perfectionist in me finds this really difficult, but I’m going to do it. That’s what this is. This is me forcing myself to get something on the page. It’s not much but it’s something.
Any of my readers who are artists of any kind when you struggle with your own “writer’s block” what are the strategies that help you defeat it? Leave your thoughts in the comments. They will be much appreciated!