Seth Godin says there’s no such thing as writer’s block
‘There is no such thing as writer’s block because there is no such thing as talker’s block.’
In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield tells us to just sit down and write. Again, and again and again.
People often ask me if it was hard to write my book, You Are Enough. And for the most part, it wasn’t… and that’s not because I’m better at writing a book than anyone else; it’s because I’m excellent at sitting down and writing, “writer’s block” and all.
I’m also pretty good at ensuring that I’m having fun in my business, and with my writing and creativity. This makes everything feel easier.
If you find yourself coming up against writer’s block, please know the feeling doesn’t have to last. In fact, is it even a feeling? Or is it a block we create to stop ourselves from doing our best work and putting it out there because of fear, perfectionism, procrastination or overwhelm?
Hmmm. You get to decide.
Also: you get to write.
You might think you have writer’s block, but take a step back and look at what’s going on from a different perspective.
You might be surprised to find it’s not really writer’s block at all… and that the best remedy for what you’re feeling is to keep writing anyway.
Writer’s block vibes #1
You’re trying to write something that you’ve already said, or repurpose something you’ve already written
This happens to me when I love an idea so much that I try write about it again, but instead of coming at it with new eyes and a fresh perspective, I try to re-write what I’ve written but in such a way that it doesn’t sound the same.
I know, confusing right?
Getting writer’s block in this case is protective and actually, expansive; it’s asking you to not write something you’ve written before in exactly the same way… what else can you say about this?
Remedy: Let go of the idea of whatever you’ve already written, and come at what you’re trying to say from a different angle. Add new stories or insights, dig deeper, say it a different way.
Another little activity that I’ve found helpful is to summarise the piece and then pretend I’m explaining the summary out loud; the words that flow when I’m speaking the piece out loud, end up sounding great as a new version of the same idea. Try it.
Writer’s block vibes #2
You’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, or trying to include an idea that doesn’t necessarily belong where you think you want to put it
This happened to me when I was writing You Are Enough, and thought a section or paragraph “should” fit in a specific place in the manuscript, but after a big read through, I realised it clearly didn’t.
Sometimes we need to let go of beautiful paragraphs or sentences because they don’t work, but they might form the basis of a blog post or another body of work down the track.
Remedy: Step back from your work for a while (without letting it get into the procrastination realm). Once you come back to it, you’ll quickly see where certain sections need to stay, or if they need to be moved or let go.
I also suggest keeping any writing that doesn’t quite fit into your piece, in a separate document.
While writing my book, I called this my “Cut-offs” and the document accumulated almost 5,000 words pretty quickly. Before I sent the book off to my editor, I scanned this cut-offs document to see if I wanted to add anything in to my manuscript. If I did, great. If I didn’t, also great.
Even though some of the writing didn’t necessarily fit the book, I found I used some of what I’d written in the cut-offs document in the promotion my book.
Future-me was very impressed that I’d already so much promo copy!
Don’t throw out/delete your work if it doesn’t fit; keep it. Hopefully it’ll fit somewhere great, sometime soon.
Writer’s block vibes #3
You’re exhausted and brain foggy because you haven’t given yourself a break, or you haven’t gotten up, gotten out, or gotten moving
I know that starting my day with exercise and a good breakfast means I write well in the morning.
I know that the longer my lunch breaks are, the more I write in the afternoons.
I know that taking a nap is better than staring at my screen, willing the words to do something differently.
I know that closing my laptop is better than being unproductive for hours, just because I’m tired but don’t want to stop work because I think I should keep working.
I know that self-care for writers is what makes a writer create—prolifically—without burning out (or thinking they’re running out of words).
Remedy: Next time you feel brain foggy, agitated, exhausted or just plain “over it”… rest! Exercise, take some slow, deep breaths, put yourself in some new scenery, go for a walk by the ocean with a podcast that gets you thinking or an awesome playlist that soothes your soul.
Do anything other than sit at your desk trying to write. Get clear on what’s not working for you.
Shift your energy, and it’ll come back to you.
Of course, so much of writing comes down to just sitting down to write. So I recommend that, too.
‘Writer’s block isn’t hard to cure. Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.’
– Seth Godin
If you’d love to learn how to use writing as a tool to build your business, tune into your creativity and honour your muse, as well as release creative fears, comparison and perfectionism, join me for my Love What You Create Workshop.
What do you do when you get a creative/writer’s block?