Friday, June 18, 2010

Writer's Block

One more than one occasion, I felt unable to write a thing. Some of this was the result of burning out but some of it was the result of writer's block. I am told most writer's suffer from this inability to string words together at some point. And I've seen countless books on the subject offering advice, suggestions, and techniques to overcome it.

When it happened to me, I was frantic because it was my job to write. I had a schedule to keep and a deadline to make. So I tried everything I could think of especially anything I thought would have a fast result and good payoff. For example, I resumed writing in my journal. I had kept a journal through college but stopped after entering the workforce because my life was busy and I had little time.

I now made the time.

I also read a few books on the subject to understand the problem. The best one was Writing on Both Sides of the Brain by Henriette Anne Klauser. This is a great book. I have no idea if it is still in print, but if it is, read it. The basic thing I learned from it was that most writer's block is based in fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of exposing too much of one's self. Fear of sounding stupid. Fear of saying too much or saying too little. Fear of wasting the reader's time because you have nothing important to say, and so on.

Notice that the bottom line here is fear. Apparently we all suffer from some sort of fear in regards to writing and in other parts of our lives.  Most of us accept this and live the best life we can within the confines of this fear.

When I read this, it blew my mind. I never realized that this could be the trouble. So after I read the book, I took a long hard look at myself and realized I was afraid. I was afraid of losing my job and failure. But I was afraid of other things too. And then something snapped and I got angry. And in my anger, I hated myself for being afraid. That's not who I thought I was and yet I could not deny my feelings. So I resolved not to be afraid. In fact, I rounded up all my fears, threw back the curtains in my mind that my fears were hiding behind, and exposed them to the light of my scrutiny. And in that light they faded and died.

Suddenly I felt empower and ready to write again. I also felt ready to tackle other personal goals that I had been afraid to up till then.

Now even though I felt ready to write I still struggled with it now and again, partly because that's the nature of the beast and partly but I was still recovering from burn out. But the solution there is to read. Your brain picks up sentence patterns and words use when you read and that was exactly what I needed.

So if you are suffering from writer's block take a look at what's going on behind the scenes and confront your fears. Even if that does not resolve the entire issue, I'm guessing it will help.

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