Is This Writer’s Block?

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I’ve written a few posts on writer’s block already, but this is a special one.  It deals with a different problem with writing that I discovered that I have, but it’s been masquerading as writer’s block.

And it’s about to stop for good.

What is Writer’s Block, Exactly?

The term “writer’s block” has been tossed around by every writer in trouble to the point that it’s becoming cliche.  It’s a catch-all.  When the writing isn’t going good, writers assume there must be something in the way.  A snafu, a character that won’t behave—anything that says, “Nope! You’re not writing today!”

Yet that’s what it feels like: a block.  A wall.

But what is the block? How does it get there? How does it stay there?

In some cases, is it even a block?

In some cases, I think it’s actually more of a mental loop.

Writer’s Loop

Take me as an example.

I’ve been working on my novel for years.  And I am trying to start my third draft.  I don’t want to write yet another draft only to chuck it.  I want this draft to be as close to the final product as it can be so I can do as little work as I can.

Sounds logical, yes? I want to be productive and efficient.  Nothing wrong with that.

But, instead of sitting down and writing the thing, I’ve been writing around it.

Journal entry upon journal entry, I’ve been writing the same diagrams over and over again of my world structure, or asking the same questions that I already know the answer to, or coming up with concepts that I don’t use, or needing to know the exact details of every part of the story, or just trying to figure out the logic of certain plots points (X needs to happen to Y).

And I’ve been doing this for months.


This loop, this “writing around,” has to stop.  I’m not going anywhere.  I’m not using the ideas I came up with, or I write a little only to regret it.

So in order to stop this cycle, I need to understand its cause.

Why am I “writing around” this task?

Fear, Fear, Fear, Fear

Well, I said it myself earlier:  I don’t want to write yet another draft only to chuck it.  I want this draft to be as close to the final product as it can be.

In other words, my excessive planning indicates that I’m so unwilling to make mistakes and imperfections in the next draft of my novel that I am unwilling to write any part of the novel at all.

It is the same logic behind those with social anxiety disorder: Those who have it are not afraid of people, but are afraid of the potential humiliation that can happen.  So instead of interacting with people, they don’t interact at all.

That’s anxiety.

That’s fear.

And please understand that I’m not saying every writer in existence has anxiety disorder or any sort of disorder.  But if you’ve felt this before—if you’ve felt like you were stuck for months, not writing that draft—take a look at some of your thoughts.  If they are repetitive and negative, they aren’t going to help you.

Writing around your novel won’t help you.

You need to dive in, and…

Just Write It

For this next section, I’d like to employ the help of a very… media-friendly actor.  Although he did this for an art school, this message is still quite powerful.

That’s right.

Just do it.

Just write it.

If you can write a blog post while your novel stays unwritten, you’re not in writer’s block.

If you can write an email to your colleague while your novel stays unwritten, you’re not in writer’s block.

If you can text a friend while your novel stays unwritten, you’re not in writer’s block.

You can write your novel.  Don’t let fear and doubt get in the way.

You might fall in another loop again later, but you are a writer.

Writers write.

Doers do.

Write every day, every other day if you can’t make that, once a week, once a month, once a year.  Keep writing.  Your draft is only a draft.  And yes, people will read it and give you feedback on it.  That’s a good thing.  You need a pair of fresh eyes for your work.

And if they’re good people, they will let you know if something is wrong nicely.  If not, and they try to humiliate you, they aren’t worth your time.

So stop reading this blog post.  Stop right now.  Get to writing.

Just do it.


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