Writer’s block. It happens to all of us at some point or another.
It happened to me while I was writing what was to become my award-winning novel, The Land Below. One moment I’m commuring up a storm—plot twists, colourful characters, and the like—only to suddenly grind to a halt. Next thing I know a month has passed without my having added anything more to my story.
I had succumbed to writer’s block.
But writer’s block, no matter how persistent, needn’t mean the end of your story.
They say that genius is ninety-nine percent hard work and one percent inspiration, and they’re probably right.
Without the force of habit, hard things seem harder to do: Training in the gym. Getting up early for work – just skip exercising for a week, or return to work from a long holiday, and you’ll see what I mean. That engine just doesn’t want to turn over. There’s just not enough spark left in that battery.
So, what to do?
You could just give up and walk away. Have a drink. Take up table tennis.
Or, like persevering with a car that won’t start, you could put your back into it and push. Never mind that the road is flat and narrow without a hint of a downward slope to make things easier. Never mind that there isn’t anyone to help you steer. If you want that engine to start, you just have to push until you gain enough momentum.
“Writer’s block will inflict us all at some time or another. The trick is to never give in to inertia and the sense of hopelessness it engenders.”
So, it is with writing. You have to fight the inertia. Grit your teeth and place those fingers on the keyboard. Write something. Anything. Heck, write about how much you hate writing.
Sure, what you write might be silly, uninspiring garbage that no one wants to read. But who cares? Silence that inner critic and push on.
Five minutes today. Maybe ten tomorrow. Twenty the next. Just get back into the habit of writing, and inspiration be damned.
Set yourself small goals – increase time spent daily at the keyboard. Pay no attention to the quality of the output just yet. Just write, write, write.
Suddenly, perhaps when you least expect it, the engine will turn. It might take several days. It might take a month, or longer. But inevitably, that engine will start and you will find yourself back in the driving seat steering the car down the road.
And don’t be too surprised, if, a mile or two along, you happen to stop to pick up a hitchhiker, wearing a tee-shirt with a large M on the front, who spins you a yarn about kidnappings and dungeons, and how she escaped them both.
Beat writer’s block by writing through it, one paragraph at a time, one day at a time.