Writer's Block Is Nothing Personal…

We all suffer from writer’s block from time to time. Whether it be in our Instagram captions, our blogposts or even writing product descriptions. It sucks, but it happens. And trying to force the words out when they really don’t have any plans to show up only makes you feel all the more frustrated. And then when you’re frustrated at the process, the words are even less likely to find you. I’ve learnt this the hard way — in my many attempts to trick myself out of writer's block: scouring Twitter for inspiration (only to come away despairing over current affairs) or reading others’ work on similar topics (only to come away with crippling feelings of comparison). 


And so we fall further and further into a pit of self-deprecation. Our writer’s block — appearing stronger and stronger, starts to eat into our sense of worth. We start doubting our abilities and end up in state far worse than simply being unable to complete our daily work-count.


Something that has helped me to not get into such states, is in fact reminding myself to surrender to the writer’s block first. Rather than instantly scrambling for a solution — like cracking open a magazine with the primary intention of finding a spark of inspiration, I’ll crack open a magazine without the expectation of gaining anything from it. I’ll give myself an hour to watch a show instead of making my brain work overtime in a panic to come up with something and then feeling shit about myself once I can’t. This, I’ve found, allows you to find calm once again whilst reaping the rewards of stepping away from your work for a short period of time. 


Sometimes we can’t string a clear sentence together for no apparent reason, but often what writer’s block is trying to tell you is that you need to step away for a moment or two. Similar to how the answer to a problem is often always right in front of you the whole time but you haven’t been able to see it because you’ve been so enthralled in figuring it out, you miss what you’re looking for completely. I have realised that being blocked — in writing and otherwise, is a sign that I need to free myself up a little. To get out from under the work that’s currently flummoxing me and instead invest some of that energy into a plan that will serve me bouncing back quicker and without self-doubt.


Even when I’m stuck for what to write whilst on a deadline — when the pressure is building and time is running out, I’ve still found that stepping away, taking a break and doing something that isn’t scrambling for a ‘cure’, is still a more useful way of actually combating writer’s block once I do sit back at my desk.


Once you’re in a more prepared position to calmly act in response to a bout of writers block, you’ll be less likely for it to penetrate your opinion of yourself and your ability. Because writer’s block isn’t a sign of incompetence, it’s just a sign you just need to free your mind a little. 


Sure, I still endure 10 minutes or so of tantrum throwing in response to not finding the words I want when I want them, but I have learnt to separate my fleeting stagnation from my sense of worth and my overall capability to get the job done. Which in turn, puts me in a better position to recover from it when it does come up. 


Writer’s block is nothing personal — it’s just your mind’s way of telling you it needs a break. 

Esme MarshComment