It’s something that happens to everyone every now and then, but what is writer’s block really? I’d say its most basic definition is that it’s a condition where–for whatever reason–a writer is unable to write.
One could argue, however, that there is really no such thing; that it is simply the result of something else going on in the writer’s head.
Speaking for myself, when I sit down and find myself struggling to get any words out, it usually comes down to one of two things: boredom or lack of commitment.
If you’re a writer, you might be able to relate: You find yourself at the computer when you know you’re supposed to be writing, but there are so many other things you’d rather be doing. “I have writer’s block,” in this case actually means: “Ooh! It’s November! I could be playing in the annual Nethack tournament right now!” Or watching news analysts talk about the presidential candidates. Or browsing ebay for Power Nine Magic: The Gathering cards. Or watching Star Trek reruns on Netflix. You get the point.
There’s only one way to overcome this, and you know what it is: shut up and write.
There is a strategy to this, though. If you can’t stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should instantly break out the bottle of Ritalin. It might simply be that you’ve gotten bored with what you’re working on at the moment. Take it as an opportunity to work on something else. Try something new or something that just sounds fun. Don’t think of yourself as a writer; think of yourself as a kid telling a story. Or pick your favorite TV show and plot out and episode of that. Change the names so that you’re not doing fan fiction 🙂
But whatever it is you choose to work on, don’t think about whether or not you can publish it. Just write it and have some fun.
And if you’re really having trouble getting started, then walk away from it for a bit. Get whatever it is that is pulling you away out of your system. There is one ground rule, though. Set a time limit. Go play Nethack or whatever for thirty minutes, and not a minute more. While you do that, you’re subconsciously telling yourself “I have thirty minutes to do this, and then I start writing.”
As soon as that thirty minutes has passed, you’ll be done with your distraction and it will be much easier to get back to work.
And if that doesn’t work, be sure to check out my post on 5 Steps to Overcoming Writer’s Block for a few more ideas.
What do you do when you find yourself having trouble getting those words out?