Writer’s block is a gift

It’s the thing that wakes us at night with sweat on our skin. It’s the lump in our throats as we stare at the blinking cursor or useless pen. It’s the hammering in our hearts, the hankering in our souls, and the siren call that beckons us from our true paths—which is to write, write, write.

Sure, writer’s block leaves us feeling anxious and neurotic and as if all of our creativity is spent, but the reason we feel such anguish is because it matters. Writing matters. Down to our core, writing matters.

Through its lack, writer’s block reminds us of the joy of a beautifully turned phrase, a character in full bloom and a plot that evolves as we ourselves do. It reignites the yearning we all felt when we started writing down the words in the first place.

So next time the fear and emptiness comes, don’t take it as evidence that you’re not meant to be a writer. Don’t reduce yourself to a blank screen or bare scrap of paper. Take this pause, this pain and fury, as incontrovertible proof that writing is a part of you. You wouldn’t care so deeply otherwise.

With time, those words you love and nourish will untangle themselves, and you’ll fill the page once again.

5 ways to get your writerly groove back

computer1Suffice to say, taking a long stint away from writing makes it extremely daunting when you finally decide it’s time to get back into it.

It’s been a little while since I last worked on my manuscript, but here’s how I’ve started dragging myself out of the mire.

Visualise yourself writing

If an activity is visualised often enough, your subconscious will believe it is a part of your real life. So be specific and involve the senses. Imagine the tap of the keyboard, the creak of your chair as you lean forward, the coolness of the floorboards under your feet. Remember the warm rush in your mind as the words flow out and the satisfaction you feel as a blank page is transformed. Imagine yourself entirely in that moment, with none of the guilt or panic you feel at not actually being at your desk. And do it often. When you’re finally ready to work on the manuscript, it won’t feel so alien or overwhelming.

Don’t set goals on your first day back

Face it, you’re going to be pretty emotional. There’ll be the relief of finally writing again, plus the anxiety of having wasted so much time. Don’t pressure yourself by committing to some sort of grand production schedule or list of tasks that will get you back on track. Calm down. You’ll be okay. Just write.

Start with something simple

computer2Whatever you write on your first day will probably be hard work. It’ll take twice as long to write half as much, and it likely won’t be your finest achievement. So start on something you won’t have to fight with. If setting is your strength, focus on that. If you have a clear idea of how two characters are going to interact, get writing. But don’t start on a critical, vague or difficult scene—that’s how you end up hiding under the bed with a tub of ice cream.

Accept that it won’t be easy

You’re going to struggle, and writer’s guilt seems to hit whether you’re writing or not. So be kind, acknowledge all of the negative thoughts, and then move on.

Celebrate the small successes

Managed to write a sentence, paragraph or page? It’s more than you’ve written in eons! Revel in it and ignore all of the imperfections. Follow it up with a second day of writing, and a third, fourth, etc. Get some momentum and allow yourself to enjoy the process. You’re a writer once more.