Writers’ Block: figment of an anxious writer’s imagination or a terrifying urban legend that could swallow your writing career whole?


So, if writers’ block is real – and many writers swear that particular bogeyman is lurking in their closet – how do we identify the causes and manage them so that this ghost in the machine doesn’t stall our writing engines?

This post is brought to you by a very large to-write pile and an overextended car metaphor. You’re welcome.

Hunger strikes! Fuel your writing
If the car has no fuel, it ain’t going nowhere. This is my personal number one cause of writers’ block. Are your basic human needs met? Are you well-rested, with a full stomach, quenched thirst and an empty bladder? I need a cup of tea by my elbow if I’m going to be writing, or strong, sugary coffee if my brain won’t kick into gear. Learn your body’s signs that you need to refuel.

Life charges the battery
Writers are solitary, indoor creatures. If you fortunate enough to spend solid days writing, what else are you doing with your life? Nothing comes from nothing. If you’re not out experiencing life, what the hell are you going to write about? This is how we end up with endless stories about writers. Don’t be that guy.

Keep experiencing, keep living. And I am not talking about Twitter.

Books and films are water and oil
Like life, you also need to experience other creatives doing their thing. Be a consumer of fine literature and excellent films. True, there are lessons to learn from bad stuff, but writers feed on good fiction, like tennis pros play better opponents to improve their game. Make sure you keep reading and keep watching stellar works to take your work to the next level.

Know your destination
Some drivers meticulously plan out a route with three different route planners and an old, battered A-Z before setting off. Some plug a postcode into the satnav and press “go”, just seeing what comes up. Others have a vague idea where the place is and just jump in the car and hope for the best. These are all valid ways to drive to a place, as long as you actually get there.

Know what kind of writer you are. If you need a plan, make a plan. If you like to wing it, straighten up and fly right. But a lot of folks get writers’ block because they’re forgotten where they’re going and how they were gonna get there. Take out the map again and figure it out. Otherwise, you’ll just end up driving in circles or parked up on the verge.

If all else fails, get a new car
Sometimes, it just ain’t happening. The car is a twenty-year-old rustbucket and it don’t drive no more. You’ve prodded it and patched it and changed every bit of it so that there’s an original part left, and it still ain’t going.

That’s the time to get a new car. Ditch the stuck project, perhaps only temporarily, but put it down and walk away. And get excited about something new.

Because writing is discovery and we’re all on a journey someplace exciting, if only we can keep that writers’ car running!

What’s your #1 cause of writers’ block? How do you overcome it?

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