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March 6, 2024

Why “Writer’s Block” is a Complete Fabrication.

{*Did you know you can write on Elephant? Here’s how—big changes: How to Write & Make Money or at least Be of Benefit on Elephant. ~ Waylon}

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Writer’s block. The seemingly inevitable fate that most creatives spend their careers dreading.

Writer’s block is also a complete fabrication, like the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus (sorry kids).

Whoever coined the term “writer’s block” likely wasn’t referring to the literal meaning that has infected so many creatives. Alas, some stuff sticks for whatever reason, and if you’re a writer who often envisages being “blocked,” it’s time to consider writer’s block for what it really is.

I write for a living. I churn out lots of words daily. Sure, some days I am more “on” and in flow than others, but I’m yet to land on a day where I literally cannot jot down letters and weave sentences together.

The truth: self-doubt and fear

When people refer to writer’s block, they are ultimately pointing to self-doubt and fear. It takes guts to stare down a blank page each day and express ourselves, to publish content we’ve spent copious amounts of time honing only to potentially learn that others aren’t vibing with our style or narrative.

I see writing as an art, and the reality is many people can’t handle that period we all experience when we are not good at something because we’re skill-building. When it comes to writing, most people bail at Chapter 3 because they can’t handle the potential rejection and setbacks that come with reaching the final chapter.

Writing without expectation

If you genuinely want to become a better writer, you must write without expectation. You must continue stringing words and sentences together when doing so seems pointless. And understand that for every writer—regardless of who they are—the real magic happens during the editing process. Consider this example that’s unrelated to writing specifically but that I’m hoping transcends cultures while making my point.

If you want to become the next Michael Jordan but keep missing hoops, is it best to stop shooting hoops, or would shooting more hoops move you closer to your goal? Sometimes, we have to be willing to miss baskets with the understanding that we are working on becoming something greater.

Embracing the notion of “becoming”

“Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.” ~ Michelle Obama

I challenge you to buy into Michelle Obama’s spin on “becoming.” To use an analogy, we are all constantly baking.

The next time your mind spirals into writer’s block mentality, do yourself a favor and contemplate if any of the following scenarios are really at play.

You lack the discipline to begin writing

Many people view writing as a gift, and to an extent, I agree some people are more naturally gifted at expressing themselves through the written word than others. That doesn’t mean gifted writers don’t spend hours honing their craft.

Think of your typical gym bro (no offence if you are a gym bro). Sure, they may have the genetics that mean building muscle and looking aesthetically pleasing is easier, but they still need to take care of their nutrition and lift weights. There are no shortcuts to anything worth achieving in life.

So many people want to write, but so few carve out time in their day to write. My biggest piece of advice to budding writers is to get out of your own way and start writing—about anything.

You fear judgement

For so many people, the connection between writing and judgement stems from childhood or another negative experience. Something along the lines of: once upon a time, a teacher or parent told them that their work was no good.

The only way to beat this fear is to keep going and do your best to detach yourself from other people’s opinions. It’s not easy, especially when you’ve poured your heart and soul into a piece of writing and it doesn’t land with someone or most people.

Jack Canfield’s uber-popular book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, received 144 rejections. That book is now a best-seller, a series, and a franchise that sells soup. Don’t rob yourself of the chance to create your version of Chicken Soup for the Soul due to judgement.

You are empty

You must have something to write and say. When students share they feel empty with me, I see it as a sign that they’re not writing what they know or are genuinely drawn to. So often, people write what they think others want to read.

Writing to become an international best-seller is a slippery slope. Why? Because while there are many instances where books become best-sellers and people become household names, in my view, that’s not the point of writing.

Writing isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme (trust me, I know); it’s an art. According to Action Education, 773 million adults around the world can’t read or write; two-thirds are women. Reading and writing is a privilege that is far too easy to take for granted in much of the Western world.

You indulge your perfectionism

When it comes to writing, perfection is the enemy of progress. Regardless of how polished any piece of writing or manuscript is, one can always spend more time editing.

The sooner we come to realise nothing will ever be perfect, the easier it is to release our work into the world and see what happens. Yes, I can be a control freak and practising what I preach can sometimes be difficult (because you always spot the typo after hitting “publish,” right?), but remember: you never know who your “raw and real” piece of writing may reach.

And when you inevitably encounter that “helpful” reader who points out your typo but says nothing else, bite your tongue and remember that manuscripts endure multiple rounds of editing and different sets of eyes. And yet, I have published books on my bookshelf with several typos. A typo is not the end of the world.

Your environment isn’t supporting your goals

Environment is huge. I speak from experience. I recently moved into an apartment where I live alone. My ability to write has soared. I have a few theories as to why:

>> My day is driven by my own routines now, so if I feel inspired to write at 3 a.m., I get up and write without worrying about who else I’m going to impact.

>> I feel I have so much more space and clarity now that I control how much television and media I consume.

>> I have the most beautiful view that inspires so much reflection and gratitude about how my life is actually my life!

I believe writing is one of the most under-utilised tools we can draw on as needed. My passion lies in guiding people to write to feel and ultimately heal.

Over to you. If you genuinely believe you are encountering or have encountered writer’s block, if you feel comfortable sharing your main challenges in the comments, I promise to write back with a piece of guidance I hope will help.

~

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