It Isn’t Writer’s Block

For the past few years, I’ve suffered from what I thought was writer’s block. I’ve written sporadically, and even published a couple of books, but daily writing has been almost impossible. In terms of blogging, weeks or even months have passed without a single post. There have been numerous times that I’ve opened up a blank page, only to stare at it for several minutes without a single idea of what I should write.

At the end of last year, I vowed to write ten minutes per day. While I haven’t managed to write something every single day, I’ve noticed that when I do write random journal posts (for my eyes only) I have no trouble coming up with things to write about.

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that what I’m suffering from isn’t writer’s block. Not at all. In fact, I’ve identified several things which have kept me from writing, and I’ll bet many of you have struggled with at least one (if not all) of these issues:

  1. Not writing just for the sake of writing. It’s okay to write stuff just for you. Not everything needs to be (or should be) published. Journaling is a great way to get the thoughts flowing. I know when you have limited time, you don’t want to “waste” those precious minutes by writing random stuff that will never see the light of day. But, writing random stuff is better than writing nothing at all. And, quite often, jotting down a few thoughts in a journal will get the juices flowing so that when you do return to your novel-in-progress, you can hit the ground running.
  2. Thinking too much about potential readers/reviewers. Since I began writing with a reading audience in mind, writing has become more difficult. When I began writing my first novel, it was so easy. The words just flowed. I wasn’t thinking about an eventual reading audience, I was just writing because I was so excited about the story! Once I turned my attention to agents and publishers, it got harder. And, once I published and experienced critical feedback, it got harder still.
  3. Self Censorship. This has been a real killer in terms of my blog. I’ve been self-censoring my writing and constantly thinking about how it would be received by others. I don’t want to tackle anything too political or too controversial. I’ve seen authors who have had their reputations smeared just because a blog post was badly received by someone who decided to create drama. I guess I’m a coward at heart, so I’ve been steering away from topics that mean a great deal to me, just because I don’t want to take a chance at offending the wrong person.
  4. Worrying too much about “branding.” A long time ago, I read a popular blog by a social media guru who advised authors to constantly be aware of branding. If you’re a romance author, you should write about romance, romantic settings, romance movies, and other romance-related topics. If you’re an author of historical fiction, you should write about your trips to historical sites, historical events, and popular historical movies. You get the drift: Build your brand, stay focused, don’t be controversial. I think of all this is pretty decent advice, but the problem is, when politics or world events or general upheaval in your daily life occupies all your thoughts, how can you NOT write about it? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be put in a position where I just shut up and enterain my readers with the fluff I think they might expect. I guess if we’re ONLY interested in book sales, we can be careful not to rock the boat so we appeal to everyone. But you know what? It’s impossible to make everyone happy, so shouldn’t we focus on writing about topics that enrage us, thrill us, or amuse us? Shouldn’t we write about things that warm our souls or break our hearts?
  5. Being afraid to get too personal. This is another tough one for me. How much of my life should I really put out into the world for everyone to read? After all, my coworkers at Ye Olde Day Job could potentially read my post. Or elderly family members who might be shocked by some of my ideas. I do think, when it comes to getting personal, we have to strike a balance, but I’ve been so careful, I’ve written almost nothing at all about my personal life, and that has left my blog dry, boring, and devoid of emotion – and oftentimes content. Trust me. I’ve written lots of posts that I decided not to publish on my blog because it’s too personal.  Just because I gave birth to four human beings does not mean I own them. Yes, I have a right to tell my own stories, but do I have a right to tell theirs? I’ve held back on writing anything about my family, or interesting things that happened at various day jobs because I think the people in my life should have some expectation of privacy. However, I think I’m probably safe to tell stories about a car breakdown, or a nice excursion to the beach or mountains, or even a humorous story about a cooking disaster. Instead, I’ve written, well, nothing.
  6. Depression and mental illness. And, so now I’m about to get personal. I suffer from extreme depression and anxiety which have derailed my writing more times than I can count. It’s hard to worry about sticking to a blogging schedule when you’re suicidal, or when you’re so anxious you can’t even concentrate on watching a television show. Depression has been the number one reason I’ve abandoned novels right smack in the middle. It has caused me to completely drop out of the blogging community, even going so far as to unsubscribe to all the blogs I used to follow. Anxiety has prevented me from leaving comments on blog posts I’ve read. It has prevented me from keeping in touch with all the amazing bloggers I’ve met here on WordPress. Each time I crawl out from beneath a major episode of depression, I essentially start all over again. I have to read through half-written novels I haven’t touched in several months, only to discover I’m not the same person I was when I began writing the damned thing. There have been so many times people have asked me about my writing, and I’ve lied and told them I’m busy, or that I have writer’s block, instead of just admitting I am fighting a losing battle against depression. Writing this right now, I know that at some point (in a week, or a month, or a year), I’ll drop out again, leaving abandoned novels and a neglected blog. But, for now, I’m trying and that’s all that counts, right?

Sometimes a lack of writing is due to writer’s block. Oftentimes, it’s something else. If you’ve struggled with writing, I hope this post helps you identify the reason for your “writer’s block.” At the very least, I hope this post reminds you that you’re not alone.

 

24 thoughts on “It Isn’t Writer’s Block

  1. Thank you Tricia for writing this blog post. I can relate. I have written post that I refuse to post because I think it not worth to post. I can relate. I just wrote a blog post ten minutes ago I would not post if I didn’t read your post. Thank you very much.

    Here is the URL to a blog post “No Longer Fear’s Slave part 1” I wrote last year on the brain and chronic fear from a sscientific/biblical point of view with the intention to provide readers with information that can help them because it helped me: https://mythoughtsexactlyjoblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/no-longer-fears-slave-part-1/

    I hope this will be of value to you as it was for me as you push forward and continue to do what you love. All the best Tricia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you, Jodi. I’m glad you were able to post your article. Thank you for the link to your blog post. It’s wonderful that you wrote this to help others. It appears to be a very well-researched article and I’m looking forward to reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh boy, ain’t that the truth! My anxiety manifests in different ways, but one thing is always the way – it’s impossible to be creative or productive. Anxiety puts you in survival mode and your brain is screaming “danger,” which makes it very hard to sit down and focus on writing. My heart goes out to you and anyone else struggling with anxiety.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This I can relate to so much! Anxiety and depression rule my life way more than I’d like them to. It is at the point that I have been reworking the way I write simply so I can finish work. My plotting methods have grown more streamlined, I keep a massive amount of notes in a separate document to keep me on track and I fast draft the first one. All of this because I never know when the next episode is coming and for how long it will take me out. My blog has taken many hits from it as well.

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    1. That’s exactly how it is for me too. I never know when the next episode is going to hit or how long it will last. It might be days, or it might be months. Every time I seem to have some momentum going, anxiety or depression gets me off track.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is hard. So hard. I’ve managed to streamline my first draft down to about 16 days once I can sit down to write. Right now, I’m trying to renew my determination and focus after going through a bought of it at the end of December. Regaining momentum is so difficult.

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  3. So I’m not the only one who struggles. Worrying about the reactions of the readers. worried that my blogs are not really good enough, that no one could possibly want to read. Thank you. Your thoughts are really helpful

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  4. I feel so many of these! Writing is more chore than fun because every time I sit at the keyboard it’s the weight of “will people like it? will it be okay?” rather than writing for the fun of writing. The short stories helped some with that because as freebies I didn’t need to look at sales – there were no sales – and I worked on each story one day a week for a couple of hours, so there was not a huge time commitment. But now that I’m trying to do the collection… bleh. The first collection has sold almost nothing (as in 7 copies since the release) so I feel like why bother? In order to write I have to miss out on things with friends and family, give something up, and if no one is downloading, why should I miss out? It’s one thing if I’m missing out and getting paid – that makes it a job, I’m trading my time for the money my family needs – but when I’m giving up and getting zero back (not even the knowledge I’m entertaining people since no one is reading it) I think why bother? Why should I have to miss out on life – the one life I have – miss out on picnics and leaf piles and snowfalls and game night and movie night and fun time with family who will one day be gone – miss all of this for nothing? Because that’s what it feels like. I’ve given up so much time in the last ten years, missed so much time with people I love, and have zilch to show for it.

    BTW – if you ever need talk, you know where my messenger is! I may not answer right away, but sometimes just throwing the thoughts into the void and knowing someone else will see them helps – or at least it helps me sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Jo. I will definitely take you up on that offer and chat with you more often. In the past, watching my books sales drop off to nothing really bothered me. It’s hard when you see other authors who seem to be selling books like crazy, but each new release (for me) sells less and less. There’s a lot that goes into selling books. Some people have a ton of money to spend on advertising and really pushing their new release. Some of us don’t. At this point, I really do want to get back to writing for the joy of it. I’d love to be able to write a novel from start to finish within a reasonable time frame just to see if I can still do it. But, yeah, at this point I would settle for just being able to blog on a regular basis. Or to eek out a poem once in a while. I hope you can rediscover your joy. You’re such a talented writer and you have so much to offer. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a fan!

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  5. I totally agree that not everything written needs to be published.
    I think you can attest to the fact that I’ve overcome my struggles with “playing in safe” with the publication of my last book.
    You got it right. It’s time for writers to start writing what they want to write. It’s time for writers to be honest instead of afraid.
    I can relate to this post in so many ways and I’m proud of you for writing it and sharing it.
    Thank you for letting other writers know that they are not alone.
    You’re an amazing person!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Toi. You are an amazing person too! Yes, you definitely had to step outside your comfort zone and take a risk when you published your latest book. No one wants to alienate family and friends, or offend readers. No one wants to incur the wrath of the one-star-book-review-brigade or the Twitter trolls. But as a writer, and as a person, I’m tired of playing it safe.

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