HOW TO CONQUER WRITER’S BLOCK

“Writing is a sickness only cured by writing.”
Niall Williams, History of the Rain


By Nick Grandy

Writer’s block is something that plagues almost every writer. It’s the feeling of being stuck or without ideas and it puts us in a state of literary inaction. We sit and we wait for the genius to flow from our minds to the page, which usually doesn’t happen, and so we end up producing nothing.

It’s one of the greatest challenges a writer can face. Writing is an art, and like most artists, we are exceptionally hard on ourselves for producing poor results. It may seem silly, but a lot of writers would rather produce no results at all than poor results. This is why so many of us become “afflicted” with writer’s block.

giphy3

So, how do we combat writer’s block? How do we free the words in our mind from their suspension in stasis?

You may not like this answer, but the only way to conquer writer’s block is to write. I know the great ideas are not coming, I know there is no flow right now, but you have got to write. It doesn’t mean you need to produce the masterpiece you know is floating around in your head somewhere; just write something. Write anything.

This is a big problem with writers and artists of any kind. They know they have great potential and producing anything less than excellence does not seem worthy of doing.

Writer’s call this writer’s block but it’s more of an obsession with perfection. We don’t want to do anything unless we know we can do it perfectly, which will never happen.

The only way we can even come close to perfection is through practice, through repetition. So, by sitting and waiting for the perfect ideas to come, we end up distancing ourselves from the elusive concept of perfection that we so pervasively chase.

This isn’t to say that those great ideas don’t exist somewhere in your mind, but sitting and waiting for them to make their way out of you is not a practical tactic. We must draw these ideas out through writing. Bring out the good ideas by writing out the bad ones.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to publish every word that you write. That would be a nightmare. What you’re trying to do is create a large pile of physical material that you can sift through to find those great ideas. Get all those ideas out of your head and then you can start sorting the good ideas from the bad ones.

A lot of the time, we just need to get the bad ideas out of our head so that the good ideas have more space to show themselves. So, write those bad ideas out of your head to make way for the good ideas!

As writers, we are so obsessed with creating perfect results that we very often don’t create any at all. We want so badly to produce gold that we forget how much digging is required to strike gold.

It’s not easy to find gold, prospectors know this. Do prospectors just sit at the side of the mountain and wait for gold to tumble down the hills into their wheelbarrows? No, they dig. They get their hands dirty. They chip away at the bedrock, piece by piece, relentlessly, until they strike gold. They sift through tons and tons of worthless dirt because they know there’s gold beneath it all.

Believe it or not, all that dirt they sift through is valuable. It’s not as if they’re going to bring clumps of dirt to the goldsmith and try to sell them, but they know that every scoop of dirt is just as valuable as the gold itself. They know that without going through the dirt, they’d never strike gold. There is incredible value in the dirt.

The goldsmith doesn’t care about the dirt however, he’s only interested in the gold. By the same token, your audience doesn’t care about all the bad ideas you’ve sifted through and tossed aside, they only care about the good ones that you share. The prospector is the one who cares. The writer is the one who should care.

A good prospector knows how valuable that “worthless dirt” really is. He knows that without that dirt, gold wouldn’t be as precious. If gold were everywhere you looked, readily available and easily attainable, it wouldn’t be nearly as valuable. It’s valuable because of its rarity. It’s precious because it’s hard to find.

Writer’s block is essentially a choice. It’s a choice to either write or not write. You may not be writing exactly what you want to write, but you’re still writing.

Writer’s block is an acceptable excuse we make to not get our hands dirty. It’s a flimsy reason we create to avoid getting down to work.

If you believe that you have some great ideas, you must be willing to do some dirty work to bring them out of you. Your mind may contain some great ideas, but there are a lot of bad ideas in there too. Writing out those bad ideas is about as dirty as a writer’s work can get, but it must be done.

A big part of conquering writer’s block is understanding that it’s not all going to be gold. You must be willing to dig and dig and dig and turn up nothing but dirt for a while, and not be dissuaded by your lack of gold. You will strike gold eventually, but you won’t strike gold if you stop digging and you certainly won’t strike gold if you never start digging in the first place.

Keep digging. Sift through all that dirt and be thankful for it. Be grateful for all that seemingly worthless dirt and rock. Without the dirt, you’d never strike gold.

giphy4


Author’s Bio:

2

Nick Grandy

I am a twenty-four-year-old man with a strong connection to spirituality and nature, who has an immense passion for the written word. Writing is what gives me my life, it awakens my spirit. I feel it is what I am meant to do. It is my main passion.

Nick’s Blog: GrandDeeds

Nick’s full bio


Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing

More on Grammar

More posts about Writing Advice

Our site is accepting submissions. Read our submission guidelines and climb aboard the Two Drops of Ink literary train – it’s on the move!

Looking for a summer read? Check out The Book Shelf

Poetry has found a new surge of interest. Read some great poetry on our site: The Wall of Poets

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Advertisements

S.W. Biddulph

Scott Biddulph is a published writer, author, and poet from North Georgia. He began writing as a youngster and followed his lifelong dream of reaching people through the written word when he returned to The University of North Georgia in 2013 to finish earning his BA/English with a concentration on publication and creative writing. His publications include the following: an eBook, Apples of Gold: A collection of inspirational short stories and poems (Smashwords, 2010) and a paperback, Voices from the Heart, (Createspace, 2012). His poetry is published in Papers and Publications Undergraduate Research Journal. Vol 3 (2014) and the award-winning Chestatee Review (Spring, 2015), among other places (Check his LinkedIn profile for a full list of his publications). He is currently working on publishing poetry, creative non-fiction, academic essays, and his memoir. ******** Scott has also worked as an intern editor for the University of North Georgia Press. As a freelance editor, he has done the layout and design of several books and magazines. He is currently working with several authors on various publication projects in which he is either ghostwriting, editing manuscripts, or doing the layout and design of their books. ******** Finally, and most importantly, he is a father, grandfather, husband, and dedicated Harley Davidson rider. He and his family enjoy the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains where they live—especially their screened in back porch where they love to bird watch. ******** ~ "I love realism. I love writing about the raw, down-to-Earth, heartfelt realities of life. I love to write in a way that reaches into the human soul—to take the greatest pains and struggles in life, and make them a blessing to others. Fantasy is a wonderful, interesting thing—but real-life situations, feelings, fears, and dreams are an unexplored ocean of stories that need to be told." ~ ~Scott Biddulph~

21 comments

  1. Excellent post, Nick. It never ceases to amaze me what can be unearthed when we grab our shovels/pencils and start digging/writing. I forget who said this, but “You can’t edit a blank page.” This helps me keep mining for gold-nugget words, phrases, and sentences.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Like

    • Thanks Wendy! I agree with you 100%. You never know what you can dig up when you just get down to work. “You can’t edit a blank page.” That quote fits perfectly.

      Thank you for your comment, Wendy. And thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great article. I can apply writer’s block to my own existence just as much as I can apply it to making art. It happens with artists a lot. There’s a saying that goes around with artists about not being able to find ones muse during these “ruts,” but the truth is, the muse will find YOU, and she will only find you while you are working.

    Thanks for the article. It helps a lot. Been going through “it” lately with some other stuff, i.e.: art, short stories, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Carol! That was exactly the point I tried to make with this article, to make the concepts, which can be applied to writing, transferrable to life. It all comes down to putting the work in, no matter what kind of work you’re doing. I love the saying about the muse. I especially like your addition to it, the muse will find you only while you are working. In other words, the magic can happen, but only if you’re doing your part to make it happen.

      I’m glad you found the article helpful. I really appreciate your comment.

      Keep doing what you’re doing, the muse will find you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, Nick. Useful information and written well. I like your comment to Michelle – write the good, the bad, and the nonpunishable. Echoing Peter, getting it in rough draft – which can include just a sentence – for review later is how I roll, too. My darling file is something I review monthly and viola, there’s sometimes the beginning of a post.

    I’m so pleased that you wrote this for Two Drops of Ink and hope that you contribute again. Specific to the topic, how you’ve phrased many of the problems with writer’s block offer our readers yet another style, tone, and voice to consider and that’s what makes the site so informative. How you said it won’t be the same as anyone else, but that’s what makes for a more inclusive site.

    Good job, Nick.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the encouragement Marilyn! I find it so important to write out everything that’s going on in your head, if for no reason other than to declutter your mind.

      I’m very grateful I was able to publish an article on Two Drops of Ink! Everyone is very welcoming and supportive, it’s just awesome to be a part of it!

      I’m happy to have been given the opportunity to offer my voice to this site. There are so many different ways to look at any given topic and I’m grateful to be able to share my perspective.

      Many thanks, Marilyn.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I guess I learned about writers block a long time ago. I may have no desire to write on any given day, but not because I have a mental block. Evernote is my trusted electronic journal into which I type many peculiar thoughts. Many go nowhere, some build and fester for months on end, but if I have the desire to write, but have nothing in mind then I dig something out from my notes and complete (or add to) that. That “obsession with perfection” can stand in the way, but I have found that it is better to write something then come back at a leter tme.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Peter! I use a similar application, my memopad in my phone. Whatever idea pops into my head, whether useful or not, I write it down and may just get some work out of it eventually! There’s a lot of bad ideas in that memopad, but some great ones as well. It is absolutely worth writing it all down. Who knows what we can make of those ideas at a later date?

      Thanks for reading, Peter!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Nick – Welcome to Two Drops!!
    I loved this post! I have I ever equated my “Writer’s Block” with perfection before.
    I have always thought it was a lack of ideas or inspiration or time or or or………but your post itself contains quite a nugget of gold – it really is about my pursuit of perfection!
    Thank you for the nugget generously tossed my way…….However, I think if I want to find more, I will have to go digging myself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Nick! Welcome to Two Drops of Ink!

    I appreciate this true to life post. I have found writing is hard. Making myself sit down and get to work is a huge challenge for me. I like your analogies. Sifting through the dirt is a good way recognize the good and bad writing ideas. Maybe if I use a rotor-tiller I can get to the gold a little faster.
    Thank you for your contribution today. Hope to see more of your helpful insight.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nick,
    This is such a true to life post. Writer’s block is the bane of writers everywhere, however, as you point out, it doesn’t go away if we ignore it! Sifting through the dirt is the only way to find gold. Thanks for the reminder and welcome to Two Drops of Ink!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your comment, Michelle! Writer’s block can seem so insurmountable to a writer, especially when we stay in our head! The only way to sift through all the “dirt” is by writing it all out of our heads. The good, the bad, and the unpublishable.

      I really appreciate your comment! Thanks for taking the time to read my article!
      -Nick

      Liked by 4 people

Join the conversation. We welcome your thoughts and ideas!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s