So many writers end up staring at blank pages or finding themselves stuck, unable to get the ideas to flow from brain to paper. It gets diagnosed as Writer’s Block. The prescription is time away to regenerate the muse. Once back home, newly tanned from a beach, sleeves rolled up, some frustratingly find the creative genius still thwarted.
I recently read an article from Harvard on Imposter Syndrome (https://www.google.com/amp/s/hbr.org/amp/2008/05/overcoming-imposter-syndrome) I suffered this in my professional life. No matter how much I knew, how much I studied and read, and how many years of experience I gained, I was haunted by the fear that I would be found lacking, not worthy of the growing alphabet of titles behind my name. So I worked harder to learn more, and burned out faster and faster. In the end, I had no creative energy left.
Interestingly, as I read the Harvard article, I began to realize that much of the same mental factors involved in Imposter Syndrome also play a role in writer’s block. And the tips for grappling with the problem are similar, boiled down to a few bullet points:
–Internal dialogue: what do you say to yourself as a writer? Is it more like, “My writing sucks!” Or do you give yourself some kudos? I’m a firm believer that what you tell yourself over and over, you will eventually believe. Find supportive ways to be positive to yourself. Remember, published authors make it look simple. But it is anything but that. Don’t let your brain put you down when you struggle to write. Instead, realize it’s all part of the normal struggle.
What you tell yourself over and over, you will eventually believe.
-Periodic doubt is normal: Meet it head on, give yourself a set amount of time to grieve, as it were, pick yourself up, and get on with writing. Continuing to focus on feelings of failure will keep you swirling in the mire.
-Talk: Find writerly groups on FB, Twitter, local libraries, or Meet Up and develop some professional connections, build friendships. Just don’t go it alone. These are the folks that will understand and help each other through the rough patches.
-Dream: Allow yourself to dream. It isn’t silly, childish, or a waste of time. It cultivates the imagination and gives our brains the permission to create. Think of a favorite story you’ve read. If that author hadn’t dreamed, your favorite story wouldn’t exist.
If you’ve been suffering Writer’s Block, re-center yourself with the list above. Change your internal self-talk and allow yourself to both create and have rough days. I believe Writer’s Block, initially, is a short-lived event that can turn into a much bigger problem if long-term attitutde and behaviors reinforce negative feelings about self-worth.
Have you had Writer’s Block? Do you have suggestions on what how to overcome methods it? Share your experiences in the comment section below.