Every writer experiences those days (or weeks) when we just can’t seem to write, or at least we can’t seem to write anything “substantial”. Technically speaking, we can always write, put words to paper. It’s writing what we want that doesn’t always come easily, or sometimes at all.
I’m sure you’ve all read or been given advice from several sources on how to deal with what many call writer’s block. And it’s probably all good, sound advice. Or mostly. My favorite is being told to keep writing no matter what. I mean, it’s excellent advice and it works…most of the time. It honestly does. But sometimes I don’t feel like writing anything at all. Nothing.
On the surface, that sounds perfectly reasonable, right? And it is, if you really don’t want to write. What I’m referring to is the complex feeling many of us writers experience of wanting to write while simultaneously not wanting to write. Get it? I’m sure you do. We writers can be a nutty bunch.
As writers, we always want to write; we love to write, need to write. So what can we do when this frustrating state of emotions happens to us? Well, I do one of two things. I sit down and I write. Hear me out. I don’t try to work on current writings, but instead I find an old story that’s been sitting untouched for some time and I begin to re-write. For me, this works because I love re-writing! I love adding meat to the bones. The process stimulates my “writing muscles” (that can be taken both figuratively or literally I suppose) by taking away the pressure of working on my current project while putting me back into the game. It works probably 98% of the time.
For the remaining 2% of the time the above tactic doesn’t work (usually because I just can’t muster enough of anything to even begin writing a single word), I read. I give myself permission to not write today and pick up a book and read. I’ve always got one handy. For me, reading other fiction stimulates my own story-telling needs.
Let me state the obvious. When you feel some form of writer’s block, find what works for you and do it. Don’t feel guilty because you aren’t writing, use the time to figure out what stimulates you back into putting your words on paper (or screen). I’ve learned that guilt only creates anxiety which can shut the door to creativity.
If you have any other suggestions or advice on the subject, please do share for every writer’s benefit. If it works for you, it will most likely work for many others. So don’t be shy.
Happy reading and writing!