Updated: Sep 27
I dare you to mention "Writer's Block" in a writing group - even if only once.
I can guarantee you that you will see eyes widen, hear the horrified gasps, and perhaps even watch a few of those writers recoil in horror. It's like Fight Club. You don't mention Fight Club. You don't talk about Fight Club. Well, you don't mention writer's block because it's like inviting it to the party, and it's that one guest you don't want.
Okay, so maybe it's more like MacBeth. You don't mention that Scottish play by Shakespeare.
It's another unwritten rule and superstition.
Maybe I just created it.
However, what is real is the horror at hearing it mentioned.
Also equally real are the various and often ridiculous methods that writers will employ to either wait out the dry spell or push through it.
Freelance writers don't have the luxury of waiting out the dry spell. We have to create, write, edit, and then get our articles and blogs out on deadline. A freelance writer who misses or "drops" deadlines because of writer's block, no matter how legitimate, will not be a freelance writer for long. But then how do we push through it and create something?
Here are a few things I learned as a freelancer to push through:
I was hired to write, so I slam words down on that page. It doesn't matter if I like them or not, that's what the first draft is for. I can edit it later. But writer's block is that blinking cursor where there are no words. Slam down the first thing that comes to mind that is remotely related, so long as it's on topic and accurate. Style can come later.
I do more research. Half the problem of not knowing what to write is just that. I have no idea what I'm writing about so how do I create an article? I get out of the house, if required, and go research. I open Google and a literal crapton of tabs and read up on it. I take notes - and once I have crossed off what I cross-reference against another source until I distill what is true and what isn't, I'll find that half the article is there but just in bullet point. All I do then is create the sentences.
I don't overload myself. Writer's block, in this case, is from burnout. I don't let it happen. I set expectations and limits and do not, under any circumstances, let someone step over them.
I ask for a fair rate. It's super demoralizing to create an article, and then only get paid enough to cover coffee after all of that hard work. I won't feel like doing it anymore, not even out of the love of writing.
I found a quiet place to write, free of distractions. I live in a multi-generational household and space is at a premium, and up until COVID-19, my go-to to escape and write was the library. It was fitting. Books, learning, quiet, free internet, and the location I picked even had inexpensive but still good coffee and was very close to Starbucks and a great local place that puts Starbucks to shame (sorry, Starbucks, but Salute is better). During COVID-19, I have to get creative.
Eventually, I'd like to have my own office to write out of but that's not exactly financially feasible right now. Plus, with COVID-19, I'd still be working at home so now the eventual aim is to have a spare "bedroom" to convert into a home office so I have my social space, my sleeping space, and the workspace.
If you're a fellow writer, what do you do when Writer's Block rears its ugly head?