Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Writers' Block. What is it? How do I cure it?

Writers' Block... we'll it's a funny old thing isn't it? For some it's a complete blank space of ideas every time they go to sit down and write something. For others, it's a million ideas but somehow, there just isn't any inclination or determination to sit down and write them.
I literally have a drawer full of theses and still haven't
been able to sit down and 'properly' write for months.

Personally, it's the second form of writers' block that I suffer from. I have a notebook crammed with novel outlines (about 9 fun novels plotted) and yet, in over a year, I have managed to actually complete just one short novella for a publisher.

Not bad going, you might say. It's better than some folks - in fact, probably better than most - but the problem for me is, I'm a full time writer. Yeah, it's my actual job, and when writing is meant to fill every 9-5 and bring in a salary, then it's quite a pressure - Imagine the freak out I should be having about writers' block.

And make no mistakes, I am not lazy. In fact, most folks laughingly joke that I'm one of the busiest, self-disciplined creatives they know - no, lie. But.... still the overwhelming feelings of self-adequacy and self-doubt, of imposter syndrome crowd down when I acknowledge that I'm suffering, for whatever reason, the dreaded writers' block syndrome.

Actually, that last sentence is utter rubbish, I don't feel any anxiety about it at all, and that's what my post today is about.
Sometimes, just gathering up your
notes and ideas and putting them away
for a few days, allowing yourself the
freedom to do something else, can
be  a quick trigger. 

Those feelings of frustration, inadequacy, self-doubt, imposter syndrome, anger, disappointment are all what we are taught to feel in traditional production society. We are taught from day one that the 'AMOUNT' of work is almost secondary to the QUALITY of the work, and goodness forbid anybody ever suggested in the traditional production / capitalist society that you actually got pleasure, fulfilment, soul-enriching experiences from what you were producing.

Increasingly, in the indie authoring scene, there is a production line ethos. If I get offered one more freaking course on 'How to Write For Market' or 'How to Increase Your Productivity' or 'Write a Gazillion Books to Make a 6 Figure Income' then I might just.... well, I don't know what but it would be something notable.

Now, let me make it clear right here and right now that if that works for you - if you are naturally incredibly prolific and, or you love the challenge of writing for market, then good for you. You are a rockstar and I love that you're happy and fulfilled. Seriously, I have some super good friends who are just amazing at sitting down and writing everyday and getting beautiful stories out into the world, every one of them bloody brilliant - This article is NOT about bashing folks for writing quickly or prolifically. There are people who can write quickly, copiously and it still be fabulous quality. No, this article is about NOT feeling bad if you're not doing that.

It's taken me some real reflection time on this matter. Those of you who follow this blog know that this topic rears its head a little every now and then. But finally, I feel I am in a happy place.

This years key focus word for me was TEND, which admittedly, a lot of folks in my sisterhood didn't quite get when I said it, but now, 6 months in, they do because they are seeing the results of it.

There's an old saying that sometimes, you have to go backwards to go forwards. That's me. I spent the last six months going backwards, and now, I'm ready to move forwards on the right path, in the right way - in a way that makes me... *gasp* HAPPY.

I have learned the most important thing for me as a writer / author is NOT FREAKING OUT when a week, a month, hell, even three months (*coughs and side-eyes* six months) have gone by and I haven't actually written anything.

Times like these are feeding your creativity.
Learn to embrace the times you think
you're doing nothing when actually
your Creativity is playing and learning hard.
The reason I don't freak out is because I KNOW with certainty (now) that the time I'm not physically writing is a time when something truly magical is happening. And I've learned to trust that.

Creativity isn't always an outward expression, the creation of 'something'. Creativity is often a thought process, a conscious journeying inward. It doesn't need to be helicopter parented. It's absolutely fine and dandy all by itself. It doesn't need you to navel gaze and wonder 'What is my Creativity doing today?', 'Let me set some goals for my Creativity', 'Let me bullet journal my Creative's To Do List'.

Creativity is your inner child. It's perfectly content playing imaginary games and role play all by itself, it doesn't need you to come along with your big scary notebook and your good intentions and start stamping on its parade, trying to organise it into some kind of narrative, and plot.

LEAVE THE POOR CHILD ALONE. Like all children, it will come home of its own accord when its hungry. That's when you sit it down at a table and ask it about its day. That's when you make notes and take an interest in its story.

I've learned to take my hands off the neck of my creativity. I've learned that my creativity LOVES adventure and new things, so I make sure that I do as much as that as possible. I travel, I explore, I take wonder in the world - the exotic and the everyday. Instagram has become the travel journal of my Creativity. You should head there and see the adventures that we have. Me and my Creativity love hanging out together, now I've stopped making demands on it.

However, my Creativity has expensive tastes, travel, experiences, indulgences don't come cheap, so like any good parent, I have to find a way of funding its needs, which is why I no longer consider myself a full time writer, but a part time writer and part time other something or other job title; editor, publisher, event planner. I work to feed my creativity - oh, and my real children ;)

Yes, it's not all the Facebook and Instagram face - there's a lot of hard work and slog, and late nights and long days behind it all to ensure my life, house, kids are in order, like the other 99% of the world, I work hard and long.
Go exploring. This place is just 8 miles away from our
suburban London home. See the world through the lens
of a camera. Not only does this help your Creativity
secure the image but you can also print out your pics
and stick them in scrap books for future projects. 

And the beauty of the day job is that it gives you healthy time apart. Like any relationship, a period of separation is a good thing; strengthens appreciation, care and love. Never begrudge your day job - unless you really hate it (which I came to the point of) and then in that instance, get a different one. Seriously, get an exit plan - a 1 year, 3 year, 5 year plan, but get one.


  • RELAX -- recharge. 
  • PLAY -- have fun. Do silly things. Fall in love again. Date your spouse. Play with your kids. 
  • TRAVEL -- even if it's down a road in your neighbourhood you've never been to, or a cafe you've never had a coffee in, a bus route you've never taken. Pretend you're an alien and it's all new to you.
  • EXPLORE -- especially in places / situations that are familiar to you. 
  • WORK -- distract yourself, pull an extra shift knowing that money is for one of the above. 
  • EDUCATE -- take a course - it might be part of your job exit plan;) 
  • FIND A NEW HOBBY -- it might become your future day job, it might introduce you to a whole new friendship (character) circle. 

  • Freak out
  • Get grumpy
  • Get angry
  • Chase down your creativity into submission
  • Get lazy and disaffected

Good luck everybody. Live your stories! (unless like me you write some horror, and then that wouldn't be a nice thing at all... )

Thanks for stopping by. Please, please share your tips about overcoming Writers' Block in the comment box below. Let's start a conversation.

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