Sometimes Writer's Block Isn't Writer's Block
When you think you have writer's block but it's a lot more than something that simple.
You’ve been sitting there staring at a blank page, or rather a blank screen. Nothing seems to come from you as you hold your pen, put your fingers on the keyboard, and freeze. You’ve written hundreds of articles and dozens of pieces of fiction. There have been reports for work, poetry pieces, and even the occasional movie review. Do you have writer’s block? It’s a simple enough answer and a convenient excuse to throw the towel in and walk away from the desk.
What happens in your mind when nothing you do makes you move the needle and get some work done? Are you experiencing writer’s block or something else? As easy as it would be to put it off on writer’s block, there are other possible answers. Read on to see a theory on what keeps someone that loves writing from writing.
The Frozen Word
The frozen word is the time between sitting down to write and realizing that you’ve got nothing coming out. For once, you have nothing to share with people that you can get onto paper or your screen. What causes that freeze? It’s entirely up to the person struggling to write to decide what’s causing their problem. However, there are some questions to ask yourself if you’re not writing before you call it writer’s block.
Before calling it writer’s block, look at the term and see if that fits the description of what you’re going through.
The condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.
— Oxford Languages
Chances are, if you sat at your desk, had a cup of coffee ready, a pen and paper, and your screen’s free of distractions like solitaire, you had an idea. Whether it was something you’d mulled over for days, an idea you flashed on while watching a show or listening to the radio, or the perfect murder weapon popped into your head for a mystery you were working on, you had the idea. It jumped ship and left you high and dry, or you lost it. Perhaps neither.
Another cause of not being able to write could be involved with your lack of progress. Three things affect people, such as myself, and hold me back from having anything to offer for a few days. Think of the times you found yourself struggling and what was the root cause of the struggle.
Lack of Focus
Even after the best idea comes to mind, writing is a focused task that requires you to see the story you’re telling from the sound of your voice inside your head, through the tips of your fingers, and onto a surface or computer screen. Without being able to focus, the discipline to write something that will make sense is readable and of value waivers when you need it the most.
When you’re life is split between things, finding focus may be tougher to do than to say. One tip for focusing is to eliminate distractions. Again, that’s easy to say. A method for finding your focus comes from Warren Buffet. Here’s how it works.
- List your top 25 goals for your life on a piece of paper. They come from things like career, marriage, parenting, volunteering, etc. In this case, writing.
- Pick the top five goals and circle them.
- Split the list between the top five, your primary list, and the remaining 20 your secondary list.
- Store the secondary list in a safe place, but out of the line of sight.
- Take your top five list and start working your way down the list, one at a time.
Buffet’s idea helps prioritize your goals. You’ve now separated them into the important and the less important. When it comes to writing, what’s your objective? Consider what you want to achieve first, then take steps toward that achievement. Spend your writing time working on that idea, researching it, developing your outline, or starting your first draft.
Now that you’re focused, what are two other things that keep people frozen, the words refusing to move from your brain onto paper or the screen?
Writing is a competitive form of art and market. Whether you’ve had it happen to you, as the stories go, writers suffer failures and rejections. We’ve all heard the stories about how JK Rowling went through a dozen rejections before someone took a chance on Harry Potter. She would later parlay Harry Potter’s success into becoming the first writer to reach billionaire status.
What is it that a writer is afraid of that causes them to freeze, the words to freeze, and nothing to get done?
- Being unaccepted
- Their ideas flopping
- That they’re not good enough
Does that cover the things a writer fears? Does it cover the things about writing a piece when only you are sure it’s a good idea? Does it cover the anxiety of being less experienced and uncertain of yourself?
If you had a round of failures, it may be a deeply disturbing experience. Have you had success and then floundered, looking for a way to get back to that point? That can be a source of deep concern.
If, for whatever reason, you are afraid that writing is not your thing or that you are not good enough, consider that everyone was there once upon a time. Fear is a natural part of life. Fears are part of your insecurities, and to quote someone with an impressive thought on fears:
“To many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death.”
— James F. Byrnes
Self Motivation Issues
You might love to write fiction. Maybe it’s essays. Maybe you love research articles. Whatever your passion is, if you are sitting there stuck about an idea or struggling to find the time to make an idea into something, then you might be suffering from motivation issues.
Motivation will help you to turn your passions into hobbies, your hobbies into work, and your work into opportunities. First, you have to motivate yourself to get organized.
Writing is work, no matter how much fun it is to craft a story that will entertain, educate, or impress an audience you hope to find. It takes time and it takes effort. Sadly, the best things ever written didn’t guarantee they’d be hits. There are no guarantees, it’s that simple.
However, if life is getting in the way of your writing, and you’re finding yourself unmotivated, you have to work on yourself and your habits. Be willing to pick different times, or patterns of times, that you can commit. Clean up your work area. Clear your head of the clutter from your work week, your family life, and your personal life, as well as your desk.
Then, see how much easier it is to sit and explore ideas you want to write about. Make a list of subjects as you search for ideas, and much like Warren Buffet’s idea, pick the top five to explore further.
From focus, you can find motivation. Motivation will help overcome fear. Once fear or anxiety is conquered anything is possible.
If for whatever reason you’re feeling like things aren’t going the way you want, that you don’t have anything to offer, or that you’re not coming up with ideas that are things people want to hear about, give some thought to what’s causing it all. It may be that you’re suffering more than writer’s block when you’re sitting there unable to write.
Once you step back in front of your screen or sit down to put pen to paper, just write. The writing shouldn’t be the hard part. That’s supposed to be the fun of it all. It’s the editing and the marketing that are the tough part of the journey. That’s another story altogether!
“Write without fear. Edit without mercy.”
— Tom Albrighton
About the Creator
Jason Ray Morton
I have always enjoyed writing and exploring new ideas, new beliefs, and the dreams that rattle around inside my head. I have enjoyed the current state of science, human progress, fantasy and existence and write about them when I can.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
💯❤️Alot of times for me it be the phrases pouring out of my Brain all at one time, and it spills over my screen so I erase everything and that's how my writer's Block evasion usually happens...
This is a great piece
I agree - writer's block is an easy term, but it truly goes so much deeper - in my case, I think it comes down to fear, although I haven't really narrowed it down to the source yet, so I can really conquer. These are great ideas! Thank you for sharing. :)
I find I am more creative if I write on a notepad first then type later. Starting at a screen does nothing for me.
Congrats on writing your 603 story , that’s an accomplishment!! Your stories are very engaging. This one especially. Very relatable. I can write , when the story is already in my head ready for it to be typed. It’s like watching a movie that has not been seen by others yet for fiction.
Writer’s fear is the big one for me!