A Brief Introduction to Writer's Block

You’ve gone the mile and put aside time to write. The house is quiet, a fresh cup of coffee is steaming at your elbow, your back is supported, your pants aren’t too tight. Everything is quiet. Conditions are perfect.

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Feeling optimistic, you open a blank page and gaze at the blinking cursor awaiting Shakespearean verses to flood forth. You ponder for a while, but your mind is as silent as the grave (for once). You begin looking around wildly for any kind of inspiration– at the walls, at your own hands. Finally, you open your phone and answer a couple of emails. No, you think, I’ve waited all week for this moment. This is my gift to me. You turn back to the page. Sip some coffee. Maybe these pants are too tight. You check the time. Thirty minutes have already passed you by.

Writer’s block. It can start as a void in your brain where original thought should be, but, left to fester, it can stop you from moving forward at all, sometimes for years. Here are some important symptoms of writer’s block to understand before you work on overcoming it:

Your mood: deeply serious. So serious that if someone you love barged through the door at the right moment and saw you sitting there with that constipated expression on your face, they would laugh at you and you wouldn’t find it funny at all.

Your state: Strapped for time and energy. You’ve likely been waiting for some precious spare time and energy to dedicate to this task. This is you prioritizing, dammit! You don’t normally have a lot of time to be creative, but now that you do, it’s slipping through your fingers… and so far, you’ve written the enigmatic words “It was”. Even worse is when you’ve put an entire day or week aside and get nothing done. The pressure is on to perform.

Your project: big. Maybe you’re writing a book. Maybe you’re writing a website for your business. Maybe you’re writing a big article about that day in undergrad when you went to pay for a cookie and your credit card was rejected, and how this stressful time in your life has made you the person you are today. Overwhelm ensues.

If you too are trapped in the land where ideas and well-formed sentences go to die, you are definitely not alone. Stay tuned this month as I cover strategies that have helped me escape my writing blues as I attempt to write a series of short stories I’ve been procrastinating for weeks! What writing project are you currently struggling with?