Here’s the thing. The easiest and most common excuse for why people don’t write is time. And if you think about it, no one has time for anything. Ever. We don’t have time to catch up with old friends. Pick up a new hobby. Work out. We don’t have time to stop, really. But the truth is that we make time for the things we want and care about. We make time for our families, our kids. We make time for date night. We make time to go to happy hour. Or family gatherings. The ugly truth is that there is time. Busy is a myth we tell ourselves to get out of things we don’t want to do.
And trust me, the irony is that sometimes there’s nothing a writer wants to do less than actually writing. In some cases, it’s more of our profession to sit around and agonize about writing than it is to type actual words. Therein lies the struggle of announcing publicly that you’re writing. People begin to ask and you suddenly feel like Brian in Family Guy. Everyone who asks you how your book is coming is secretly mocking you. Laughing at you. Silently celebrating your struggle.
Writer’s block is too real. The overwhelming fear of not having a clever enough, creative enough, intelligent enough idea that is worth putting on paper. For me, personally, I get into this mode where I hate everything I’ve ever written. Feel like everything is garbage. It’s too trite. And then feel guilty for being too esoteric. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t claim to be any kind of expert--but because I’m experiencing it. I can offer maybe a little bit of guidance.
It’s ok to walk away. Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away from your project. As a creative, you need to let things breathe and sit for awhile before you can really move on or figure out your path forward. As long as your break is a few days, maybe a week or two at most--and doesn’t turn into years of avoidance, then I guess you’re on the right path. Not all of us are Tom Clancy’s who can pump out novels every few weeks.
Reach out. Whether it’s the weight of public shame or an accountability partner. Getting other people involved can help you get through the rough times. There’s this perception that writers have to suffer silently and alone, which could largely be our own fault but that’s another story.
Keep tabs on your mental health. Sometimes the things you write might take you to a place that isn’t so amazing. Know your own behaviors and tendencies and get the right help when you need it. It could very well mean considering therapy if you are addressing particularly traumatizing experiences.
Write about it. Okay, so no promises that when you write about writer’s block that any of it will be usable or should ever need to see the light of day--but like I tell my college composition students, sometimes you just have to write shit to figure out how you feel, what you think, and get ideas.
So there it is--some ways I’ve been dealing with my current bout of writer’s block. And straight up anxiety. I’m here and I’m writing (shittily, but I’m writing). And acknowledging all of this for what it is. Part. of. the. process. Damnit.