Who could ever forget writers block? It’s the unseen phantom that plagues us as writers and drains us of our ability to progress our stories because we can’t think of how to proceed. It’s a real story killer that has ended more than a few really promising works of fiction.
It’s just too bad writers block does not exist.
What do I mean by that? Well, is there really a faceless phantom out there actively hunting down writers and keeping them from proceeding with a story? No, of course not! It’s a state of mind. It’s self defeat. It’s boredom and disinterest all rolled into one. Writers block is procrastination. That’s all it ever was and all it ever will be.
The problem is, most people do not like to admit that they procrastinate. We are all guilty of it from time to time. Writers especially tend not to like admitting they are procrastinating because it adds pressure. They begin to jump down their own throats by telling themselves those who read their work are waiting and they wind up tapping themselves out. So they say they’re having trouble coming up with more to write. This turns into a hiatus more often than not. Usually this type of hiatus is followed with the writer promising he or she will not let the story go unfinished. “I will come back to it. I promise. I will not let this story go until I complete it!”
When I see a promising writer go on hiatus and/or see a message like that, I don’t believe that the writer will come back. I am right almost every time, if you’ll pardon my cynical boasting.
8 times out of 10 they don’t return and the story remains unfinished. This is because procrastination gets harder to escape the longer you let it go on.
1 time out of 10 you WILL hear from the hiatus writer again in the form of an update. This update is usually just an apology message and a formal cancellation of said story. Every so often in lieu of a notification, the writer quietly deletes the story. Very rarely do people who go on these hiatuses return to complete the work. Those that do are the disciplined ones who recognize that there really was nothing stopping them from continuing their work.
So is there a way to prevent procrastination? Well, yes and no. You can make things become part of a routine. If you make a goal for yourself, the story as a whole becomes less looming. Outline the plot of your story first so you know what to do in which chapter. Maybe make yourself a goal based on word count: 1000 words per day, 500 words per day... even 100 if you’re really struggling and then just build up over time. If you outline your story and set goals for yourself “Writers block” is no excuse.
Does every hiatus mean procrastination? Of course not. Your life comes first and you never know what will happen. Be it an illness or death, vacation or celebration, some things pull you away from the keyboard or paper longer than you would like. In those cases make sure you outlined the story so you can get back in as soon as you’re able.
Finally, the cure for writers block. I’ve found it, you guys. I had to go through a jungle, over the sea, through a swamp and I had to ride through a desert on a horse with no name but six warrants in three different countries. But damn it I found the cure!
All you have to do is take a glass of cold water, and drink it. Then, go sit down and write. Force it if you have to.
It doesn’t sound much fun does it? Well, when you’re writing through procrastination it isn’t fun. You’re going to keep looking back and you will want to redo what you have written. Nothing will be good enough. Fortunately that’s why you re read your draft three times before you do anything with it. Don’t get into your own head. Just let the words flow and when it’s time to reread you can make corrections along the way. The only way to beat “writers block” is to just write.
Everyone procrastinates every now and again, but it does not have to define you. Work through it and don’t let your work fall into the graveyard of unfinished stories.