Don’t panic! It’s just writer’s block.

You are not alone. (Cartoon by  Brian.)

You are not alone. (Cartoon by Brian.)

An illness struck me last week and the week before that, which, as you may have noticed, made it difficult for me to write a blog post. By difficult, I mean it was paralyzing, overwhelming and mentally exhausting. That’s right. I’m talking about Writer’s Block–or in this case, blogger’s block.

I’m sure you’re familiar with it. It’s as common as a cold. But if you aren’t familiar and have an immune system we’d love to study, test and create a vaccine out of, then here’s Google’s definition of it:

writer’s block n. the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.

There are a lot of books and articles online about overcoming writer’s block. Here’s what I noticed after reading a bunch of them: everyone has their own way of fighting it or overcoming it. (One writer mentioned brushing her teeth. After trying it, I have to admit it actually does help freshen your brain as well as your breath. Plus, healthy teeth!)

Banging our heads--not an effective cure as we hoped.

Banging our heads–not an effective cure as we hoped.

So here’s what I do when I get writer’s block:

  • Work
  • Read
  • Walk the dog
  • Write something else
  • Clean a room (or two)
  • Tell myself not to drown in guilt

The last one is a big one for me. A little guilt is healthy. But a lot…

When you’re surrounded by prolific writers, news of books being bought and blog posts becoming popular, it’s easy to begin hating yourself. Easy to call yourself weak, undisciplined and fake.

What’s hard is accepting that you need a break.

You are not weak. I am not weak. We are not undisciplined or fake. We’re just creative people with an infinite amount of words, images, sounds and ideas bouncing off every nerve in our minds and bodies. We are constantly emptying ourselves to fill a canvas.

Of course we’ll need time to recharge now and then.

That’s what writer’s block is telling you. The block in your head isn’t shouting YOU SHALL NOT PASS WRITE! It’s encouraging you to stop, step back or slow down, and enjoy what you’ve done up to this point.

With that said, I am not telling you to ignore deadlines. People can be respectful and understanding of creativity and life’s unexpected turns. But it’s important to keep those deadlines–for yourself and/or publisher.

Have you ever felt unbearably guilty or ashamed because of writer’s block? What do you do?

2 responses to “Don’t panic! It’s just writer’s block.

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