Writer’s block is excruciating. I used to be so proud I never suffered from it. However, I also told myself that would only be a matter of time, and not to get too smug about it. Sure enough, in recent years, it’s crept in on me. Or, has it? You see, I have a theory that writer’s block may often just be an aberration of too much on your plate.
Feeling overwhelmed and consumed by tasks that redirect attention away from writing is detrimental to a writing career. In an age like ours, how does one avoid this trap? You don’t. It’s going to happen. The best way to manage it is to be mindful enough to recognize what is happening, and avoid beating yourself up about it.
The last thing any writer needs is to add to the pile of things you beat yourself up about it. From editing to choosing a cover, just daily life, you’ll have plenty to nitpick. Take care of yourself! Creative people also tend to be very sensitive, meaning their emotions are dear to them. Should things be abrasive for too long, it can really oppress the vision. Trust me on this, because I’m going through it and have gone through it before.
One of the biggest problems that can rub a writer the wrong way is not having enough time to work. By work, I mean all the little and big things that go into producing our writing. That includes, laying on your ass, sipping your favorite cuppa and watching the day go by. It includes getting out and experiencing real things that matter and invigorate. Obviously, it also includes time to sit and put words down, and massage them into shape. What if any one of those parts is disrupted? You’ll find yourself stuck, and it’s going to feel a lot like having writer’s block.
I’ve spoken on rare occasions about my anxiety and depression. One of my personal therapies is to keep busy enough to drown out my mind. Unfortunately, that drowns out everything in my mind. I get nothing but the cathartic repetition. Sometimes, that is very necessary to cope. Yet, there is the danger of repeating the process so much that it becomes the norm, and your forget how to flip the switch on for writing.
When you pile on the tasks and responsibilities of life, adding to them to the point that you’re saying there aren’t enough minutes in the day, you’re coasting dangerously on the tip of the Writer’s Block Iceberg. If you continue the process for too long, as mentioned above, you’ll forget how to do things, even the things that you love, the things that are like air to your lungs. There’s a fine line.
Can you walk it back? Of course! It will take letting some things go. Before you freak out or let anxiety defend this cycle, remember that letting go doesn’t speak to permanence. You have to choose what is going to wait, how long it will wait for, and reassess it at a later date to be sure it was something you needed to be doing anyway. Also, it’s high-time to learn to say no. I’m sure you’ve seen the kitschy memes reminding you about learning to say no. I won’t walk it all out here. Just give yourself permission to refuse to do something because you need that time for other things.
Some pro-tips for letting go are using a calendar and scheduling slots for your various tasks and appointments. Don’t be afraid to use this tool. It’s going to help you keep track and stay on target, and it will give you a better perspective to view exactly how much you’re doing. Saying no will make a lot more sense when you get a good look at the part of the iceberg under the water. Then you can start game-planning how you’re going to break it down, and get past the block.
Lastly, give yourself permission to take breaks. Rest is as important as work.