We’ve all been there. Some days we really just don’t feel like writing. But we know we need to.
How do you get through that block?
I’ve been asking myself that question a lot this week. The idea of climbing up to my office (read: the spare room) and flailing at a keyboard for thirty minutes or so has been about as enticing as the idea of pulling out all my fingernails.
That is, I just haven’t wanted to.
Why you don’t feel like writing
Rationally, I know it happens to every writer at some point. You can have all the good intentions in the world but when you sit at your desk you just don’t feel like writing. Doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you’re Stephen Fucking King. Some days you would honestly rather set yourself on fire than attempt to write anything.
It’s as simple as that. Writing carries with it inherent risk. The risk of sucking, of writing something so truly awful you’ll never be able to look yourself in the mirror again.
It also carries the risk of success. That you might finish something and have to take the next step: putting it out into the world. Then people will be able to read what you’ve written.
Both options terrify that bit of your brain that’s screaming at you when you don’t want to write. You know the bit I mean. It’s the same bit of your brain that’s constantly telling you your work is no good, that you’ll never make it as a writer.
That little voice in the back of your mind is the reason so many writers fail. The reason almost everyone you know is “working on a novel” that’ll never see the light of day.
That little voice needs to be beaten at all costs.
So how do we do that?
Ride it out
The first option is to just accept it and not write while the idea of doing so is so hard. This approach has definite pros and cons.
Pro: you don’t have to face the issue head on, which avoids piling more stress on your shoulders.
Con: it’s too easy to fall into the habit of not writing if you do this. And if your writing is you main income stream, that’s a heck of a problem.
The truth is that this approach is only useful in the short term, say a day or so. After that it starts to do more harm than good.
This is the brute force, trapping yourself in a room with spiders to overcome your fear option. It fucking sucks in the short term, but is useful on the long term.
Because if you can make yourself write when you’d honestly rather chew your own arms off, then you can do anything.
But this is also gonna ramp up your stress levels so you might not want to go with this option.
Let yourself write nonsense.
Part of what is stopping you from writing is likely to be a fear of writing something bad. So do that on purpose.
Write the weirdest nonsense you can think of. Write in the worst style you can thong of. Write “this is the worst thing I’ve ever written” fifty times on a piece of paper.
Suck on purpose.
Cos once you’ve got that out of your system there’ll be more room for what you were actually meaning to write and less room for fear.
Ease yourself back into it gently
This is great advice if The Fear, in all its proper noun glory, has stopped you from writing for any significant amount of time. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t try to go from zero to writing a million word fantasy epic. That never ends well. For anyone.
Tell yourself you will write for ten minutes and then you can go back to hiding under the bed. That’s all. Just ten minutes. You can manage that.
You don’t even have to write in that ten minutes. Just sit at your computer. As long as you’ve got your manuscript open and not Candy Twitter Facebook Drama you’re good.
And once you can do ten minutes, you can do twenty. Then thirty. And so on and so forth.
Kick The Fear in the nads one ten minute chunk at a time.
Find yourself a writing buddy
This is also known as the “get someone to bully you into writing” option.
I promise you, if you get together with someone for the express purpose of writing and you end up not writing, you will feel so guilty. And that guilt will feel worse than The Fear, so you might as well buckle up and put some words down.
Same if you ask someone to check on you progress and you answer is “none.”
Or you could go for the active bullying route and have someone hit you until you go write. That also works. The bonus with that approach is that you also get to hit them when they’re not writing.
Acceptance is the key
There’s no way around it, some days are just gonna suck. That’s part of being a writer. You just have to accept that some days you just don’t feel like writing.
What really matters is not that it happens but how you deal with it. By finding some way to get through the difficulty you’re putting yourself ahead of 50% of other writers (figure very scientifically pulled out of my arse).
It doesn’t matter which method works for you, just find one that does.
Days and weeks like are gonna happen. It’s inevitable. Learn to embrace it. Bellow a war cry and go pull The Fear’s fingernails out instead. Do whatever it takes to get the words flowing again.
You are stronger than what’s holding you back, stronger than The Fear.
So pull your pants up and go write.