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Writer's Block - Recover From The Writing Disease

May 30, 2008
Among writers, there are often arguments about writer's block and whether it even exists. However, all writers will experience it at some stage. Here's how to handle it.

Writer's block manifests itself on a continuum which ranges from mild resistance to writing at one end, to the complete inability to even think about writing at the other end.

If you're experiencing resistance to writing, it's the mild form of writer's block. It often happens when you're missing a step in the writing process. For example, you may not know enough about a subject to be able to write about it with authority. Do more research, and you'll become enthusiastic and your block vanishes.

At the extreme of the continuum, when you're completely unable to write, it's because your life has changed in a fundamental way and you're highly stressed. You need to accommodate the changes, and get yourself mentally healthy enough so that you can write. With this debilitating form of writer's block, therapy can help, because such a block is often part of depression.

We can't deal with extreme writer's block in a short article, but there's a method to manage milder forms of writer's block.

Writing Resistance - Managing your Writer's Block

If you're not writing, it's important that you don't try to confront your resistance head-on. Chances are you've tried that, and the more you try to write, the more you sit staring at the computer screen wondering what's wrong with you.

Here's a four step process which I've used, and have recommended to other writers. It's worked for us, and it should work for you.

1. Don't Write at All for a Week

The first step is acceptance. Just accept that at the moment, you can't write, and give yourself a break from writing for a week. Put off deadlines. Write email messages, but let all your other writing go.

Think of your writer's block as a form of writing flu. You're sick, but you're healing, and you'll feel better in a week.

2. Go on a Trip, Take Your Pen

The old saying, "a change is as good as a rest" is true. On the weekend, take a trip. It can be a short trip, but go somewhere you've been meaning to go. If possible, go alone. Take a camera, and a notebook. You don't have to write, but take some pictures.

3. Accept Your Fear

During this self-imposed writing drought, you'll experience many emotions: fear, guilt, anger, and apathy. Although they're unpleasant, these emotions are good for you - they're a sign that you're releasing your resistance. So don't resist the negative emotions: allow yourself to feel them. Breathe deeply, and the surges of emotion will pass.

4. Get out of Your Head and Into Your Body

Emotions arise in your body, and trigger thoughts. Try to stay with the sensations in your body: the feeling of the emotion in your body - the tightness in your chest, the hollow pit in your stomach, the heaviness on your shoulders.

Take deep breaths, and allow the feelings to pass - don't get caught up in your thoughts about the feelings.

When you begin to experience the surges of emotion in your body, your writer's block is almost over. These surges are what you've been repressing: they form your writer's block. There's no way to release them except by feeling them fully, and letting them go.

At some time during the week, after the strong emotions subside, you'll feel like writing again - you've recovered from the writing disease.
About the Author
Want to write more ? Angela Booth's writing class, "Write More And Make More Money From Your Writing: Develop A Fast, Fun Productive Writing Process" is based on lessons she developed for her private coaching students. Her ebook "Top 70 Writing Tips To Help You To Write More" shows you how to end procrastination for good and write more.
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