Almost every writer admits to experiencing what is called “writer’s block”. This is when you are feeling stuck, you can’t continue your story. You can even try, but nothing comes out. Sometimes it’s as bad as not being able to write a single phrase. Writing ONE word can be pure torture.
Writer’s block is a horrible state to find yourself in as a writer. So: what causes writer’s block and how to cure writer’s block?
What Causes Writer’s Block?
Writer’s block can be caused by a lot of different reasons. But, in my experience, I feel terrible writer’s block for three reasons:
- Feeling lost: I don’t know where the story is going
The number one cause of writer’s block is anxiety or fear.
You might not even realize it, however, sometimes, we simply can’t go on because we are AFRAID.
1- We can think that the story is not good enough;
2- We are not good enough to write this, so why bother?
3- No one will ever read my story anyway. Why would I keep writing? I’ll never be successful.
4- This story is hard. I can’t do it. I can’t write it.
5- I don’t like what I’m doing, so I won’t finish it.
These are some common thoughts that occur to me and make me, literally, PARALYZED BY FEAR.
I can’t continue and if I force it, I feel like crying.
Sometimes it’s so hard to admit to yourself that what you’re feeling is crippling anxiety, so bad that you don’t even know what is causing the block. You just know that you can’t continue.
In this case, try to analyze it. See if that’s the case. And ALWAYS try to think:
- Is this thought true? Do I have any REAL proof that I can’t succeed? Or am I just being a bit dramatic?
- What are the factors that point in the direction that I can’t write this book? Why could I do it until now?
- Is this scene harder than the others? What is creating this train of thought?
When it comes to anxiety, thoughts are always behind your feeling. Try to find this thought and then think about it. Does it logically make sense?
Also, take a look at these:
– Mental health for writers: Will I ever be good enough?
– How to stop procrastinating
What Causes Writer’s Block: Feeling Lost
As you guys might know by the blog, I am a plotter. I love to outline my books, I find it much easier. See: How to Outline a Novel
When I feel lost, I’m like this:
THIS WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE HAPPENING! I PLOTTED THIS THING!
But, yeah, even plotters feel lost.
Sometimes, the story that you thought won’t work.
This happened with my latest romance novel. I thought I could put two gangs and the main conflict would be around those gangs. I ended up with zero gangs and the conflict being around the romantic situation the character found herself into.
When I saw I wouldn’t be able to take the story in the direction that I thought, I had a mini writer’s block, because I felt lost.
The thing is here is go back and change your initial plan.
And, if you don’t like to plot, it’s time for you to try and think about what will happen at least in the next scenes.
Feeling lost CAN LEAD to writer’s block.
Find what you want to convey in that story. The theme, the message, or at least some scene that you want to happen, and go in that direction.
See more here:
While sometimes “laziness” is actually “anxiety of moving on”, it can also be that you DON’T WANT TO DO THAT.
And that’s OKAY.
You want to go out with your friends to the mall. You want to cook, clean, sleep. Or you want to watch Netflix.
Maybe you’re terribly tired.
You have a life besides writing.
It’s perfectly fine to take a day off writing, no matter what the “experts” beat you up about “writing every day”. Do you go to work every day? Do you workout at the gym every day? No. If you do, you probably shouldn’t.
The problem is when this becomes pathological and the norm.
Then, you have to analyze if it’s really due to “being lazy” or it’s the reasons I said above.
– Develop discipline and beat procrastination: Find how
How to Cure Writer’s Block? 5 steps
Here are some things you can do to help cure writer’s block. These are my own tips and Neil Gaiman`s tips.
“Every now and again, the mists will clear, and you’ll
get a wonderful view of the valley on the other side or
the town that you’re heading towards. You know what’s
happening. And then the mists will come back in again,
and once more you’re creeping along. But that’s
how you write a novel.” Neil Gaiman Masterclass
1 – Take a break
This might seem ridiculously obvious. But you DO need fresh eyes. Sometimes, taking a break can make the thing that is making you get stuck very obvious and you can even say: how didn’t I see it before?
2- Read it all over again
Neil says that the problem is always EARLIER in the book. Some scenes that didn’t make sense, some plot holes that you got yourself into. Read it again and try to see what doesn’t make sense.
This can help you see it, especially if you took a break before.
The block can come because you tried to force something that doesn’t fit into the story.
3- Is it self-doubt? Are you afraid of writing the scene? Analyze it
Try to analyze and see if the problem is that you’re AFRAID of writing the next scene.
Why is that?
Try to be honest with yourself.
Many times, as writers, we put our souls on paper. Maybe you’re dealing with emotions that you didn’t want to deal with.
4- Have a schedule and know what you’re doing
Any time that I work without having a schedule or not knowing where I’m going, I feel lost and just don’t do it. I feel blocked.
This probably will help more the plotters out there, but give it a try. You might be surprised. Create a writing schedule.
Also, I found that sprinting for 5 minutes, which is writing as much as I can without stopping for 5 minutes only, REALLY helped me. I think “it’s only 5 minutes, I got this,” and keep writing.
My last novel was written with these sprints’ help and I won’t ever look back. Sprinting is my life now.
This book really helped me. (It’s not an affiliate link.)
Try to organize your schedule. Give it a go. And try to understand what’s coming next in your story, go write that, even if you have to skip the scene that you’re stuck into.
Talk to your characters. Yes, like a madman with imaginary friends. See what they’re saying. Explore your world around. What do you have next door from this dungeon chamber? Write some random stuff. Write the next scene you know in your book.
Have fun. Maybe you’re not having fun and the book is feeling extremely boring.
Make a list of things you’d love to make your character do someday.
If nothing is happening, maybe you don’t love your theme enough. Then, read this article here.