Wednesdays are for Writers: Paul Long on overcoming writer’s block

paul-longWhen SOOP kindly  invited me to write a guest blog, I sat wondering what to write about. For several minutes I sat,blankly staring at the computer screen, the only thought rattling inside my was “What am I going to say!?”
 
Then it hit me! One thing both new and seasoned authors have in common, the one thing that links us all no matter the ability, education or stamina: the  dreaded writer’s block. I hope that how I deal with this affliction will give some insight for new and aspiring writers. 
 
Unfortunately, writers block is a major issue in my new writing career due to the fact that my mental stamina is hampered by chronic fatigue. I suffer from a chronic degenerative lung condition called bronchiectasis, which leaves me feeling tired constantly. Although it’s frustrating, I have learned to slow my pace and change my lifestyle, which also reflects in my writing. The one thing  I have had to learn is patience
 
As authors, we all suffer the need to get the myriad thoughts tumbling around our in heads out onto paper. Normal people, sane people, have no idea as we walk past that we are in fact “ticking time-bombs”! We’re just waiting for the muse to inspire us into a flurry of frantic scribbling. Ah! The ecstasy of release as the words cascade from our minds, flowing in torrents onto the page. All too soon however, the thoughts wither and die like the leaves in autumn. 
 
So how to keep the muse happy and content? Well that is indeed the question. Although there is no hard and fast rule, there are some tips to keep the juices flowing and reduce the incidences of “numb brain” or writer’s block. 

Tip 1: Read, read, read!!!

It doesn’t matter what you read, the funny papers to Wuthering Heights! The fact that your mind is preoccupied will let your subconscious run rampant. When I’m reading, I often get sparks of inspiration, although how that is translated into the written word is for you to assess.

Tip 2: Coffee

Hey! It works for me! Once my brain get over stimulated (approximately 3 cups of coffee in a row!) the ideas just seem to come. 

Tip 3: Write at the same time every day

If it is at all possible do this. Getting your mind and body into a rhythm really helps. It’s just one of those things, if you do it religiously, things start to flow. I suppose it’s like every other routine. You get up for work, have your shower, get your breakfast etc. Half of the time, you’re only half thinking about what your actually doing! It’s the same with writing! Remember, we’re just talking about getting stuff on paper. That’s why we edit!
 
My final tip is …

Try and enjoy what you’re doing. 

Writing is often a lonely pastime. We withdraw into our inner sanctums and immerse ourselves in our fantastical worlds. Once you let frustration, self doubt and anger invade your beautifully crafted world, you lose all the fun. When you get frustrated, step away! Take a break for a few days and let yourself recharge. 
 
Remember: the only one who imposes time limits on writing is you!
 
Finally, I would just like to say to all my author friends out there, we are a special breed. We are the poets and the makers of mystical realms. We inspire and teach others to feel. Be proud, be strong and enjoy the madness!

 
 

Comments

  1. What I find is the most paralyzing cause of my own writer’s block is criticism – out of left field criticism, that makes me doubt my own abilities as a writer. Fortunately this doesn’t happen too often. I belong to a very large (over 100 members) online critique group, and the feedback I get monthly is critical, but tremendously helpful. But every once in a while…

    I was recently told by someone who looked at my current WIP that I needed to “take the time to learn my craft.” Bam – writer’s block three feet thick and made of titanium.

    Learn my craft? I’ve been contracted by three publishers and have two books out there right now that are selling pretty well. This remark came from someone who’s only self-published and whose books aren’t doing that well…

    So, in addition to developing a thick skin, we as writers MUST learn to take into consideration the source of the criticism. If your block came from someone’s criticism of your work, a bad review, or the like, consider the source, roll up your sleeves, and get back to the keyboard. We are a special breed. Not everyone out there understands – or appreciates – just how special we are.

    • Paul Long says:

      I totally agree Claire. I think that most of the time, writer’s block comes from our own insecurities. Am I good enough to be a writer? Is my book good enough? It is our insecurities that hold us back and as you quite elequently pointed out, criticism is just the final hammer blow that can stop a writer dead in their tracks. I believe that one must be confident in their belief and as long as one writes for themselves, the words will flow.

      • Theresa Schevis says:

        I agree, you have to take criticism from where it comes from. I find a lot of criticism is written out of jealousy from writers who don’t know the craft and claim they do. Its a shame because to insult a writer through your own insecurities is just wrong. We all need critiquing but harsh words are not appropriate.

  2. Thank you for blogging about writers block. Your article was informative, inspiring and helpful.

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