It’s like being chased by a monster in a maze: when writing turns into a labyrinth of ideas where something terrible and unseen is always just around the corner.
We call it writer’s block.
But let’s be honest for a moment. Writer’s block is an emotional hypochondria.
Writer’s block is you.
You can’t write because you’re afraid. You can’t write because you’re not good enough, or because you’ll never get it done in time, or because you’re going to use up your best parts and have nothing left. You’re holding yourself back. You are self-medicating an illness you don’t have.
You’re being ridiculous.
When you have an idea you really like, it’s normal to feel apprehensive about opening your brain and letting the idea out. After all, what if it’s terrible?
If you’re holding yourself back from success because you’re afraid of failure, then you need to begin to understand that failure is part of the process.
You must write a gooey, lopsided first draft because that is the clay from which you are going to sculpt. If you don’t first pile it up generously on your potter’s wheel, then you will have nothing to shape.
Writer’s block isn’t a thing. When you tell other people, “I can’t!” You’re a bold-faced liar. You can. You just don’t want to. Because facing your self-critic is the scariest thing of all.
That monster in the maze is really an extension of ourselves; the lingering power of every hurtful word ever hurled against us, by ourselves or otherwise. The farther we remove ourselves from that truth, the more powerful the monster becomes. It isn’t mystical, or mysterious. It isn’t lurking under your bed.
So cut it out. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Quit feeding the personification of your own shortcomings. And write something pretty, even if it’s ugly at first –
Because somewhere inside that monster is his magnum opus!
Fight your fear this week. Give yourself permission to suck. Write something! And keep reading.
In my next post, we’re going to examine 3 powerful literary devices that control tension and pacing.