Writing is a lonely occupation, and sometimes it feels like you are the worst in the world. The bad news is that most writers feel this way. The good news is the same news, just with a rosy-colored lens. Shared frustrations may have solutions you haven’t thought of, and sometimes it’s just nice to know – as you sweat over your words in the dark – that somewhere out there, a bunch of other people sweat, too.
Whether it stems from a lack of enthusiasm or a crowded schedule, all writers go through periods of irregular writing. That is okay. Beating yourself up hardly encourages the warm fuzzies when you think about your project. Forgive yourself first, swallow the bitter pill that is life practicalities, and then move on.
If your irregular writing habits bother you (and you genuinely have time and energy available at present) do something about them. But start small, and remember that every day you get a single word on the page is a success. Try for 50 words a day. If that goes well, you can always aim higher, but make sure you have steady footing before charging ahead.
Conversely, you can embrace your irregular writing habit. This may, actually, be the more difficult path, but it does work for some writers. The act becomes a tantalizing escape, something you never plan for but just do. And bit by bit, you put the story on the page.
This is the most romanticized burden in a writer’s life, but it’s anything but a daydream. While films – and even books! – showcase the blocked author staring morosely out the window with a cigarette or glass of whiskey, just waiting for inspiration to strike, that’s a pretty lie. You know the truth. Writer’s block is sitting in the dark, staring like an owl at your screen, silently screaming as your constipated tale threatens to flounce off and leave you altogether.
It’s embarrassing, because writing is what writers do, so what are you if you can’t write? It’s painful, because it feels like a personal assault from your own subconscious. There’s no melodramatic violin, just a personal pit of angst.
What do you do? Everyone breaks a block differently. Sometimes an author has to use a different technique for every story. Stephen King has said his biggest breakthroughs came while walking. There are also inspiration boxes, long conversations with sounding boards, and pure dumb luck.
We all feel like failures and imposters sometimes. It’s inevitable, but it isn’t forever. Some sneaky, undermining thoughts and beliefs may exacerbate natural fears, though. Watch out for your subconscious playing the comparison game. If you read a great story, and your first thought is, “I’ll never write anything this good,” you’re playing the game.
The good news is, the game is a lie. You have no idea how another reader will see your work in comparison to the story you just read. The story’s author probably has more experience, too. Finally, chances are very high the story you read has been through multiple rounds of revision with professional editors. You aren’t comparing your work to one story. You’re comparing it to a team of experts, and you’re looking through the most biased lens on Earth.
What frustrates you as a writer? Have you ever commiserated with other writers, or do you prefer to push through alone? What tips and tricks do you have for anyone dealing with the issues discussed here? Share your thoughts below.