I am part of many different communities. I was, at first, part of a singular community, but before I knew it, I’ve become part of many. There are many kinds of communities, focusing on different ideas. Some are just communities that focus on answering questions of many sorts. Others focus on some very specific parts of writing, such as serials or short stories. And then there are communities that are just full of authors/writers/friends who talk random stuff and then occasionally happen to talk about the actual writing.
All of them have one question that’s asked or hinted a lot, and most of them get the same answer. Often they are not even questions, but statements that lead to that very same question. Statements such as “I haven’t written for a month, and I can’t get myself to write,” “I have a hard time focusing on a longer series,” or “I think I have a writer’s block?”
I think I have a writer’s block?Question that many ask or say…
Usually answer to that question is “just write.” I used to give that as an answer myself, and I still do. It’s often the solution to a problem of not doing something. It’s often the case for those who start writing and are more dreamers than actual writers. But I’m talking about those who have already tackled writing, who have been doing it for a while, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, stumble upon this mystical problem called writer’s block. But saying “just write” is not always the answer to those more experienced writers. The problem can be a lot deeper.
Usually, there’s a greater reason why one can’t write. And if the one doesn’t solve that, the issue — or a writer’s block, that’s how we call it — won’t really go away. We end up in that recursive cycle, and in the worst-case scenario might lead the one to stop writing altogether.
As always, talking about things like those, an example is the best way to show things. And in this case, the experience itself is the best example. After all, I only talk about it because I’ve been through it myself, multiple times. But my findings might not be one-to-one same as yours. While some opinions and thoughts have changed over time, some actually do stick, such as every person is individual and their problems aren’t the same!
I didn’t believe that I could possibly have a writer’s block for a long time. But when I had months of no writing at times, I knew that I was wrong, something was wrong. And while others and my suggestion “just go and write” sounded easy, the real solution was not that easy. It took me a long time to underline the cause of my writer’s block. And while in the end, it became super obvious, it still came as a slight surprise.
Before telling my answer, my solution, let me tell what’s writer’s block, or how I define it. To be fair, the way how I see it and how it manifests within me is only one part of the definition.
the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.
Example: The novelist recovered from a two-year bout with writer’s block.
For me, it’s when I don’t write words down, even though I should. And I’m not talking about being busy or having other priorities, but by literally wanting to write, but not being able. For me, it’s often not a matter of getting ideas or figuring out how to proceed. I’ll figure that out eventually with my own methods. I’ll talk about one specific one at another blog post as well. For me, it’s literally sitting down and writing those ideas and thoughts I have.
It’s okay, as a writer, to decide that I won’t write for a month. Sometimes something important is happening in our lives, so I can’t schedule a time for writing. But the previous is a matter of decision making and once such period is over, I can come back to it. With writer’s block, however, I think about wanting to write, mentally prepare myself, but never reach to it. Once the day is over, I feel guilty for not writing, even though I had so many opportunities to take time off and actually do it.
In fact, right now, instead of writing and finishing my book, I decided to write this blog post instead, because this sounded more appealing than finishing a book.
The reason why one might decide not to write anymore can be many. But for me, personally, the answer is very simple! Drums… Stress! When things in my real life get too stressful, I can’t write. I’ve noticed that happening over and over again. It has become a reoccurring thing.
Writing is like work and requires a lot of discipline and focus. But when I’m too stressed, I prefer to do other things than write a book, things that get my mind off and are entertaining. Things that I really want to do, like writing this blog entry. And while doing some other stuff, I guilt myself for not writing, and thus I feel bad about it, creating a cycle of stress. And it’s not a matter of not finding my book uninteresting since I do find my book. I have everything thought out, so it’s only a matter of writing. Yet, I can’t do this. I’ve yet again wasted another weekend and I’ve been just watching Netflix and playing some video games.
But it might not be a matter of stress for everyone. There can be many other reasons why one can’t write. Maybe it’s not being confident in one’s writing, and thus the one prefers not to write at all. Maybe it’s because the one feels too much pressure when they’re writing? Maybe it’s because they suck at a certain part of writing and they don’t want to touch that part, whether it’s direct speech or descriptive parts. Or maybe it’s because something bad happened and they’re mourning, and that’s taking their mind away from writing?
The solution, in the end, is very simple. Nobody should force themselves to write when they really shouldn’t. Instead, they should take off and focus on fixing the actual issue. If it’s a writing-related issue, do research. They suck at direct speech and don’t feel confident enough? Maybe they should take a pause, and research the shit out of the direct speech. Write random short stories or prompts that’s all about direct speech. And once they’re ready or more confident, they should come back to it and try again. If it’s something else, they should still take some time off and get through the real-life problems first!
Last year, last 3 months or so, I was very sick. I visited a doctor every week, did every test possible test to figure out the cause of sickness. No matter what test we did, every result came back as a negative. I couldn’t write at all during that time. My NaNoWriMo was a mess. My serial was a mess. And I felt bad about it. I couldn’t focus much on writing while I was feeling bad, and my thoughts were elsewhere. One day, I felt okay again. Turns out that my immune system won the battle.
Almost immediately, I could write again. I wrote a lot of words. But after some time, my ears started being problematic and itching again. And before I knew it, I had a hard time focusing on writing again. And then few more bombs dropped on me. Now, here I am, again, not being able to write this weekend.
But instead of hating myself, I’m telling myself it’s okay. I need to fix my in real-life issues first, relax, and then come back to it. If I manage to write, great. If not, too bad.
I made a decision. I will take slightly time off and focus on things to reduce my stress levels and fix those problems that cause my stress. Making a decision to take time off and focus on things that matter puts stop on hating myself for not writing while I want to. Since I love writing so much, I know I will come back to it, once I’ve solved and defeated my issues.
But it’s good to know when it’s not the issue, but just laziness. Not every problem is a massive problem that can stop. Sometimes it’s just a matter of telling yourself:
Go write, dammit. Get those words down!