Today’s guest post is written by Jim Woods, a writer, musician, and dreamer who explores topics like creativity, dreams, and the pursuit of your passions on his blog, Unknown Jim. Jim joins us to delve into a topic that I’ve been struggling with lately: writer’s block.
You’re Stuck. Now What?
By Jim Woods
As a writer, at some point you will hit the wall. It feels as if there is nothing left to give. You have already written so much, and now you want to write even more? Whether you are writing a novel, short story or blog post doesn’t matter; it is almost impossible to put another word down. What do you do?
Breathe. Give yourself a chance to catch your breath. Get up out of your chair for a couple minutes. Staring at the blank page or a blinking cursor only makes frustration build. Go outside and walk around with a notebook in hand, jotting down what you see. Pay attention to the things you observe and reflect on how they might apply to your writing.
Adjust your attitude. Do not listen to ANY of the negative voices in your head. If you listen to those lies, you will soon believe that any success in the past is a fluke. IT IS NOT. You are creative. Fill yourself up with positive quotes, people, movies, music and books. Search with intent for positive people. You NEED to be around them, especially at this moment.
Change your perspective. Think long-term instead of short-term. You are a writer. Writers write. As miserable as you are facing writer’s block right now, you know it is a MILLION times more miserable to simply not write.
Allow yourself to be inspired. Read some of your favorite books. Pay attention to the language and form. Read your own work. Think. Dream. Don’t focus specifically on the task at hand. What you want to write about will reveal itself to you. And when it does, be sure to keep notebooks with your writing and use a program, like Evernote, to capture ideas.
Talk to other writers. No one understands what you are going through more than other writers. Writers speak the same language. Most writers know the path of loneliness, despair and confusion well. Remember that you are not alone; all other writers have faced these same challenges. You need the support of other writers. Don’t confuse e-mail, texting, and Twitter for authentic one-on-one interaction. Even if you aren’t facing writer’s block at this moment, call up your friend and meet them for coffee.
Let your subconscious work. Have you gotten enough rest? Seriously, have you? You probably need some sleep. Before you go crash on the pillow, try doing some stream of consciousness exercises. Simply write whatever comes into your head. Do that for 5-10 minutes and then go to sleep. Your brain will run with what you were trying to piece together on paper. The brain is a mysterious thing; it literally keeps churning away on your work even while you sleep. Keep a paper and pen handy so you can record your thoughts and dreams as soon as you wake up.
Writer’s block is one of the most difficult challenges that you will face, but don’t view this as a bad thing. Think of it as an opportunity to grow, learn, and work even harder. The words will come. Keep writing. Don’t give up! Keep giving it everything you’ve got. Every letter you put down on paper is one step closer to the completion of your work.
For more from Jim Woods, visit his blog, follow him on Twitter, and ‘like’ him on Facebook.
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Wow–I really needed this today! The negative voices have really been screaming at me, and my natural response is to just retract into my shell like a turtle. Thanks for drawing me back out! Although I’m really liking the nap idea….. 🙂
So glad I could help! The negative voices are always there barking at us..and they LOVE to make us retreat for sure. Naps are VERY, VERY important.
Trying to write without enough sleep is like trying to race a remote-controlled car without the batteries 🙂
Great post. Was just talking about this with a workout friend this morning. We can get stuck in so many areas of our lives. Usually, we want to quit, but that’s typically when a breakthrough is right around the corner.
Thanks Tammy! I absolutely agree! I love that thought that we want to quit and there’s a breakthrough right around the corner.
Great advice, friend. For being a “new” writer, you’ve grasped principles that have taken me years to comprehend, let alone accept.
Thank you so much Bethany! That is really an honor, coming from a great artist like yourself. I am very, very honored. Thanks again!
I’ve always been a supporter in letting the subconscious do its job! Great article!
Thank you so much! I think that is probably the hardest part for me; I often feel like I am not doing anything by letting my subconscious do it’s job. I have learned (the hard way) that you really just push yourself to exhaustion if you ignore the power of the subconscious.