Staring at a blank piece of paper, I wonder if I will find the words to fill it. If the words I want to find will come and read as I hope they will. I am a writer of sorts, and I try.
What I can spend a lot of time staring at…
The Well Red Mage posed an interesting blog post on writer’s block and asked what other bloggers think and how they combat it. I decided I would write down my thoughts on this as a relatively new blogger and a person who writes rather more technical things in the work part of life. Yet I still find it hard to call myself a writer as these posts are just my thoughts and some ramblings about games. That said in having this blog I write and therefore I am a writer. I also find myself afflicted by writer’s block at times, both in regard to this blog and in my work life.
In responding to the writer’s block post another blogger (the wonderful LightningEllen in this post) mentioned the number of drafts they have. I write blog posts in an odd way so have various stages of drafting. If my posts make it on to WordPress they are at least nearly ready for posting, perhaps requiring a few more minor edits or checks that I haven’t left any daft mistakes in. That said as of today I have 12 draft posts on WordPress plus around 7 pieces which could be blog posts in stages of writing between the “just started and I have a plan” stage to the “I nearly have a post” stage to the “I don’t like this, I’m going to do a rewrite” stage. Then there are the ideas for future posts that I haven’t begun yet… I know what I want to write and in some cases I know how I want to write these posts and fairly formed plans for them but at the moment they are still just ideas. Like I said my method of drafting is maybe slightly odd but for now it works for me so that’s all that matters. This method will probably change in time, but I like having posts I can call on if I have nothing to post or at least ideas which I can develop to blog posts. I also tend to have at least a plan of writing in terms of topic, key things to mention and main points etc, but I have previously found plans to be a delicate balance that can be tricky in their own way.
Writer’s block is horrible. It can be sneaky and come up behind you like the protagonist in a stealth game always appearing behind an enemy, ready to strike and it does. It does really effectively. So how do I tackle it?
Suggestions would include the most obvious one. Taking a break to do something else, anything else can help. So I might do some crafts or cook. Play a game or read. Watch a film or go for a walk. These help me, but it is all about finding what works for you. It could be something else entirely. Inspiration can appear in all sorts of places and at any time so you don’t need to go searching for it as it can find you. If all else fails look back on it another day, if it is possible to do that of course.
Another suggestion that might seem a bit out of place would be to write. Odd sounding advice I know. I write to combat writer’s block. Definitely still sounds odd but hear me out. The important thing is I don’t write what I got stuck with, I change topic or style of writing and go with it. Whether it be an email to a friend or a letter or a list of ideas for this blog or even just words that I’m not 100% focused on as I’m just writing and not stressing about what I write. I go away from what I was stuck with and think of something else. Emailing or writing letters/cards to friends are the nicest here as they really take me away from the frustration and into happy chatty things. Then, in time, I return to the piece of writing giving me trouble but this time I may overcome the obstacles and challenges it has put in front of me. Perhaps a draft could be completed that time (either that or I end up rewriting as I change my mind about what I want to write).
The important thing to remember is don’t force yourself to write if you are stuck and don’t make yourself feel bad about your writing because it isn’t as good as *insert name of another writer here*. All writer’s evolve over time and writing improves and changes. Comparing yourself to a (potentially) more established writer is not helpful. Admire other writers, read their work but don’t put yourself down because you aren’t like them. I admire plenty of writer’s and bloggers. I read their work and at times I feel bad that I can’t write as well as they can. However, I also realise I am learning, I am growing, I am developing. For all you know there is someone out there admiring your work even as you grow and change. So, don’t get dragged down into feeling worse about yourself and your writing by comparing it to someone else’s.
Keep writing whilst being true to yourself. If you put pressure on yourself it will make any block you have worse or create a block and just make writing less enjoyable for you. Be you, write what you want and write as you want.
The thing is writer’s block is unique to each writer as is the way in which it can be overcome and that’s ok (slightly unhelpful but still ok). Take your time, breathe and calm from the frustration, then come back and face the page and that piece of work. Always remember that you don’t always succeed first time and writing evolves so it is ok to get stuck. You won’t always have writer’s block.