Ways to combat writer’s block is always high up there on a author’s priority list. Between all the ideas we have, the deadlines we face, writer’s block is an elusive beast we get to deal on an ongoing basis.
Yeah, I said ongoing. Because you can’t completely overcome it. Writer’s block tends to manifest itself in different ways. You could be starting to write an idea before you have fully formed your thoughts around it. Or you overthink it, striving for perfection but the idea is constantly shifting.
For me, the most common source of writer’s block is as a manifestation of anxiety in the form of fear. I’ve had all the fears:
- Fear of failure, with a side of flat out humiliation for even trying
- Fear of rejection, that my stories are no good to anyone, not even myself
- Fear of mediocrity, being unnoticed and dismissible
- Fear of success, and the negative emotions from my peers, or even being dismissive of that success myself
All these feelings accompany me to the blank page when I need to write.
The conventional solutions to combat writer’s block are things like going for a walk, listening to music, cleaning the house…
While, yes, those strategies can stimulate ideas, the issue I have isn’t ideas. It’s fear.
You combat writer’s block, those fears, with play.
Start writing on post-its instead of in a journal or on the blank document screen. Doodle on the margins of your edit. Create, scribble, draw, poke and so something where you know the final outcome of that tidbit won’t be published. There aren’t high expectations on post-its. Lost your structure. Attempt freeform poetry. Toss away the rulebook and play.
And enjoy it. If it doesn’t work out, toss it. Try again. Start over. Draw darker overtop of the hesitant sketch lines you started with.
What stops us from writing, that fear, is the expectation what we have to write something worthwhile. So combat writer’s block with play.