As far as my own productive writing goes, the results so far this year have not exactly matched my original intentions. In fact, they’ve not even come close. They’ve been – I’m going to say it – ahem, disappointing. (Noooo! Not disappointing. Anything but disappointing *exasperated face emoji*).
By now Book 1 should have been edited to within an inch of its life and be on its way to Agentland, the mess that is the first draft of Book 2 should be starting to unravel, and committing to a weekly blogpost shouldn’t be too much to ask. None of these things have happened. I’m still halfway through editing Book 1, Book 2 hasn’t been touched since December and the last blogpost was March 4. What the F’s my problem?
Time isn’t an issue, I have enough but I’ll admit I manage it poorly. Ideas? I have plenty of those too. Ability to write? Well, that’s subjective but I seem to have managed so far. Fact is, I don’t have any excuses, which has led me to conclude that (a) I’m a crap writer, (b) I’m not meant to be a writer, (c) I’m lazy or (d) shit, what if I’m really not meant to be a writer?
These are not good things to think when you are generally a happy, positive person, which I am. They put you in a very uncomfortable place. I desperately want none of them to be true. So they won’t be. Therefore I need to understand what’s going on and do what I can to overcome it.
I had bouts of writer’s block when I was writing the first book. It’s common and understandable when you’re undertaking such a huge task for the first time. But now I’ve written it. It’s there, complete, in front of me, begging to be dealt with. ‘Come on, I’m here, straighten me up, comb my hair, make me look pretty!’ it screams from its little blue folder. And while some days I’ve been able to get on with it, it’s been a struggle and for the most part, these past few months I’ve sat in front of the computer and…stared. I know what needs doing but my fingers are frozen. Brain is going ‘go on then’ and hands are going ‘er, I don’t know…’.
If you google writers block, the amount of advice and information, as you can imagine, is overwhelming. It’s comforting, in a way, to know that it’s a ‘thing’ and that you’re not alone. Or is it? And are you? You see, the typical writer, even the most Pollyanna-ish amongst us, in the face of a mountain of evidence that should reassure and help, has a cynical voice in her head muttering that it’s all bollocks and they’re just trying to make you feel better. Whoever ‘they’ are.
First off, it confirms that, indeed, writers block exists. “Neurotic inhibitions of productivity” is how psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler described it – he should know, being the first professional to recognise it as a thing. Since his discovery, according to Konnikova, research has more or less confirmed Bergler’s original theory that writers block is less related to writing ability but in almost all cases stems from negative psychological issues, which could mean anything from anxiety and depression, to anger, fear and self doubt.
It makes sense then, that to overcome creative blockage, the individual needs to figure out what, if anything, is making them unhappy or whatever. Apart from the writer’s block itself, that is.
So, therapy it is then. It’s one answer, I suppose.
In the short term, an effective solution is to divert your creative energy into something other than the piece you’re currently working on. This is what I’ve chosen to do. I’ve put aside the unedited manuscript for a couple of weeks, am doing some simple writing exercises each day and already I can sense a shift, as if the cogs are beginning to creak and turn again.
Try these tips for size:
- visualise a piece of music and write down what you see.
- try and recall a dream you’ve had recently and describe it.
- sit in a quiet room with a piece of paper and a pen, set a timer for ten minutes, close your eyes and let your writing hand flow.
- if you don’t already, keep a diary.
- take a moment to sit and describe in detail everything you can sense around you right now, all you can see, hear, smell and, without wishing so sound all hippy-dippy, how you’re feeling. Go on, share those feelings man (no, I’m not cut out for this…)
If anyone else is experiencing anything similar and has any advice or thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week.