Overcome Writer’s Block
*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Overcome Writer’s Block, I share a few stories and five books to help you fight writer’s block!
If you’ve been writing for very long at all, you’ve probably faced the beast called Writer’s Block. You may not know that many professional writers don’t believe there is such a thing as writer’s block. If you have read something disclaiming its existence, you’ve heard people waving it off as laziness or lack of commitment or what-have-you. When you’re in the middle of it, though, you know writer’s block is a very real thing.
Overcome the Two Types of Writer’s Block
There are two types of writer’s block. The first type could easily seem like laziness or lack of commitment to some people, but if you’re already feeling down, beating yourself up for skipping another day of writing, and feeling frustrated that you haven’t felt any kind of inspiration in
days, weeks, months, that kind of talk isn’t going to help at all.
The thing you may not realize, especially if you are somewhat new to writing, is that ALL writers feel this way. When you feel that lump in your stomach, that dread of facing a blank page once again, the first thing you need to do is squash the notion that the real geniuses, the real successful writers, don’t ever feel that way. It’s a myth. A myth highly circulated through hushed circles of jealous writers, but a myth nonetheless.
Unfortunately, many of us start out thinking that our first attempt at writing should somehow compare to the edited works of great novels we love. If you haven’t heard it yet, let me reiterated a wide-spread saying “All first drafts are CRAP.” This includes that masterpiece from your favorite author.
At this point you are already refuting me with a vague memory of some author who wrote their magnum opus in two weeks while surfacing only for food and water. Okay, sometimes, maybe, when lightning strikes, it happens, but even that draft went to an editor who finessed it.
The point is, everyone looks at his or her writing and wants to curl up and hide away on some days. Everyone considers completing quitting. And, most people do. According to a statistic widely circulated online, only 3% of people who start a novel finish their first draft. So, when you encounter that awful feeling, take a minute to recognize it and remember that it isn’t unique to you. It doesn’t mean you are a terrible writer or that you should quit.
It means you have a choice: keep showing up every day and fight through the uncomfortable parts or walk away always wondering. This feeling, this uncomfortable gnawing in your gut, is RESISTANCE. Resistance feels painful to us and when we encounter pain, our first instinct is to QUIT. In just a minute, I’ll give you several books that talk more in depth about this resistance and how to fight it. But, first, on to the second kind of Writer’s Block.
There is a second type of Writer’s Block. This is the type most writers, even the hard core guys, will admit is real. This type emerges when you’ve been through something especially taxing in your life. If you’ve been through a death, divorce, financial turmoil, health issues, etc., and you’re showing up every day to the empty page already completely depleted from life, you’re probably not going to be able to produce what you want.
You need to give yourself permission to step away for a while until your mental, physical, and emotional well being has recovered.
This isn’t easy to do, but it’s often essential when you go through a major life event. Take some time to relax, to remember why you love writing and creating, and to try and enjoy life again.
If you feel uncomfortable with a break and are worried about not getting anything done, do two things. First, mark an end date to your break. Give yourself at least a few weeks and once they’ve passed, reevaluate how you feel. If you need more time, then take it. Second, give yourself permission to take a break with the understanding that the space it clears up in your mind will only help your creativity. Go for walks, check out local art or museums, and by the end of the break you’ll be amazed at how refreshed and inspired you feel.
Five Books to Help with Writer’s Block
Below I’m going to share with you five books you can read to help you fight and understand Writer’s Block. Whichever type you have, these books are sure to encourage and help you feel less alone in the battle.
The first book, On Writing by Stephen King, is one you might have seen before. It’s widely circulated in writer’s circles, online, and beyond as THE book on the writing life. While I don’t agree that it’s the end-all book, I do think it’s a good one and King’s message boils down to this: Keep Showing Up. Or, in other words, fight RESISTANCE. It’s definitely a good one for inspiration if you’re fighting writer’s block.
The second book, Dear Writer, You Need to Quit is by Becca Syme, a consultant and coach who works primarily with creatives and writers. It’s full of short chapters that challenge and encourage you to stop looking at everyone around you and focus on your writing. It helps you evaluate whether you’re facing resistance you can and should beat or if it’s time to step away for a while. And, if you finish the book wanting more, Becca has plenty of consulting options, too.
The third book, Running Down a Dream by Tim Grahl, is for any creative or entrepreneur out there. The book follows Tim Grahl as he struggles through his own resistance and his revelations and wisdom from the other side. If you think you’re alone in your battles, read this book. Then, go out to fight another day.
The fourth book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, is another book largely recognized by creatives everywhere. Pressfield may be the first person to put a name to this battle by calling it RESISTANCE. This short book is full of wisdom and encouragement and many creatives read it every year to remind themselves to keep showing up.
The fifth book, The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday, is a slightly different take on the subject. Holiday uses historical examples to show how prominent figures have found that The Obstacle (aka RESISTANCE) is the Way to success. It’s a battle most people won’t fight. So, if you do, you’re chances of success are already better than most. If you’d like a different take on fighting writer’s block, check it out. Looking at things from a different angle always fuels my creativity.
I hope this article has encouraged you that you aren’t alone. Writer’s Block, or really any creative block, is a hurdle to overcome. Every creative faces it–time and time again. Check out these books. I know they can encourage you, because they’ve encouraged me and thousands of other creatives.
Have you read any good books on Writer’s Block or the creative journey? What were they? How did they help you fight resistance?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, I will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost to you or the featured book’s author). All opinions are 100% mine and every book, unless otherwise noted, is handpicked by me to be featured on the site.