Whenever I have trouble with my regular writing habit, I like to blame it on “writer’s block.” It’s quick and easy and takes the responsibility off of me. But what is writer’s block anyway? If I really want to keep on writing, it behooves me to get past the victim mentality of calling it writer’s block, and try to figure out what is really going on. After putting some intellectually honest thought into it, I’ve discovered two reasons the flow of words gets stopped up.
- I have fallen into perfectionist mode. Ironically, when the perfectionist in me is raging, it is usually because I have made a stupid mistake or two in the past few days. This perfectionist mode then starts telling me lies about how unqualified I am to say anything to anyone about anything. Hypocrite. Poser. I feel exposed and vulnerable, which is really a good place to be for some amazing thoughts and insights to come through. But I have a tendency to believe the perfectionist mode voice and if you haven’t seen a blog post from me for several days, this is the top reason and you have my permission to send me an email reminding me that no one is perfect.
- I am trying to stifle the real me. When I get into the mode of censoring the topics that I feel moved to write about, my internal editor is unleashed in her full terrible glory and I can hardly put a sentence together because she will not stop screaming at me. I will sit down to write and it will take me an hour to write a paragraph. This stifling mode baffles me at first and it is the most likely to cause me to cry, “writer’s block!” and slink away from the computer while longing to be in the “zone” (if you are a writer you know the “zone” and you long for it too). What is really happening: I am afraid to express my true thoughts, or I am trying to tailor my writing to please my imaginary audience. I went through a rough time with this several years ago when I was self-censoring because of a fear of offending potential customers of my jewelry business by writing about what is truly in my heart. When I decided that I simply had to express myself and stopped worrying about what people would think, the problem was solved. But I still suffer from time to time with this form of block.
When I have trouble getting the words out, instead of throwing my hands up and resigning myself to the “block”, I really need to look within and be honest with myself about what is going on. Life is short and every day is full of opportunity – but days pass quickly. I’ve wasted too many of those opportunities to let a “writer’s block” stop me from doing what I was created to do. What about you? What is the underlying cause of your writer’s block?