There can’t be a writer living who hasn’t heard of writer’s block and who may have sometimes admitted to the experience. I used to subscribe to the notion that there was such a thing as writer’s block but now I’m not so sure of writer’s block. Most successful writers, both fiction and non-fiction rarely, if ever admit that writer’s block dogs them and their career. If you want to know the experience of successful freelance writers, then Sharon over at Get Paid to Write Online is a person who just gets on with doing her job. The difference between writers who rarely complain about being blocked, and those who just get on with the job is often because those people have established proper writing routines.
Writing, like a lot of other things we writers do is largely a matter of getting on with things. Whether or not you write for a living will, to some extent, govern your sentiments towards writer’s block. If paying the mortgage and putting food on the table depends on your writing, then you have to adopt the same attitude as you would with any other job, get on with it. Banish writer’s block with good, firmly established writing routines.
The hardest thing about being a professional writer in whatever field, is that because you work from home, people will assume that you are always available. It is up to the writer to safeguard his or her writing time and to categorically state to family, friends and neighbors that they are not available between certain hours because they are working. It is up to the individual to set aside time for their writing, but if you want to live by the pen, then you have to practice getting on with the work.
Everyone has different ideas about writer’s block and writing routines, and how often they should write and for how long. Most professional writers agree that you need a routine, a regular time when you just sit and write. All professional writers, whether or not they write fiction, have to make time for dealing with the nitty gritty of writing as a business, which means they can’t afford to have writer’s block. Clients have to be communicated with and billed, publishers want their authors to read the galley proofs and do their own promotion. As a writer you will wear a number of different hats. I am not going to suggest a particular routine, or the best way to deal with the non-writing aspects of professional writing, because everyone will have different priorities and various other responsibilities – which is why I’ve titled this paragraph horses for courses, all writers are not the same.
The one thing that is common to everyone in the writing business is that if they want to eat they can’t afford writer’s block, they need to work. Some writers say that setting aside certain days of the week works for them, while others say that you should write every day. I try to write every day, whether it is freelance work for a client, finishing a research report, or getting on with writing the next book in the Lambeth Croak Series. Getting into a writing routine that suits your lifestyle is a sure-fire way of beating writer’s block. If you feel stuck then try free writing first thing in the morning, something advocated by many writers.
Those writers who find it difficult to establish viable writing routines often have what I call time sinks – something we all have to deal with at points. Too much time on Twitter or Facebook, checking emails every ten minutes or doing something other than writing are all time sinks. If you want your writing to literally disappear down the plug hole, then don’t do anything about the time sinks. If you want to progress in your writing however, then try what many time management experts recommend, check what you do during every thirty-minute period while you are awake over the next fortnight. Once you have identified where the time is going there’s a good chance you’ll be able to pull it back, get on with your writing and stop bleating about writer’s block.
All writers get the writing wobbles, often referred to as writer’s block. Wobbles happen, particularly if you are writing a long document such as a research report, a thesis or a novel. Writing wobbles also happen when you are freelancing, writing several articles on the same subject, putting a different spin on something you have already written, or writing something in an unfamiliar area or discipline.
Writers, if they are to continue writing, have to find a way of dealing with their block or wobbles. No doubt everyone has their own way of dealing with a difficult writing situation. The problem, if you are new to writing, is to feel that these problems are something unique to you, they are not. Just take a look at the number of books and articles written about writer’s block, or ways to unleash your creativity and add a spark to your writing. The thing not to do, is to give up, there is usually a way through your problem.
Sometimes the only way to deal with a writing problem or wobble is to change your normal pattern of writing. Below are a few ideas for changes that can carry you beyond a block and into deeper writing.
You’ve no doubt heard about the concept of free writing, the trouble is that so many of us seem to forget about it when we most need it. Just to clarify, free writing involves picking up a pen and writing anything, if you can’t think of anything then write about that. Keep your hand moving and don’t stop writing until the allotted time, say ten or fifteen minutes is up. Sometimes whatever is troubling you, whether it is a point of fact or fiction, comes to the fore as you are going this. Free writing works on a similar principle to morning pages which are also designed to release the writer within you.
If you normally write straight into the computer, then why not try a different way of writing. I often find that writing with a favorite pen in a notebook means I tend to over think something a lot less. Handwriting can make your writing seem more immediate. I often use this method for rough first drafts of something and then tidy it up when I put it into the computer.
If changing how or when you write, or what you write with isn’t working for you, then try something else creative. Many people find that baking or painting a wall frees up their creativity so that they come to their writing afresh. If you enjoy sketching and painting, then try that. The point is to find something that you enjoy, knitting or crochet for instance, that is creative but that has nothing to do with writing. There are studies which show that when you exercise your creative muscles in whatever form, it pays long term dividends and can make a person more creative.
Don’t feel that you are alone, even the most productive and hardworking writer sometimes feels blocked or has the wobbles. If you write for a living, you will know very well that writing every day and sometimes into the night as well is tiring. If you allow yourself to become too tired then you will find most things difficult, not just writing. Bottom line, don’t beat yourself up. If writing seems impossible then do something else for a while. It is often the case that taking a break from something, makes it easier to do when you come back to it. What do you do about your writing wobbles?