By Karen Hodges Miller
The other day I had a writing deadline. I wrote a lead. Deleted it. Wrote another. Deleted it. Played some solitaire. Checked my email. Wrote a third lead. Deleted it. Got a snack. Wrote a fourth lead. I was suffering from that dread disease, Writer’s Block. If you haven’t experienced Writer’s Block, you just haven’t been writing long enough. Believe me, it will happen to you.
The symptoms of Writer’s Block are easy to identify. You sit at your computer and nothing happens. Unlike the day or week before when words flowed easily from your mind to the computer screen, now there is nothing. If you do manage to write a few sentences they aren’t good. They don’t express your thoughts or ideas, the grammar is terrible, the structure is poor. There is no grace or creativity in your words. If the first symptoms persists for more than an hour or two you move to the second stage of the disease. You begin to doubt yourself. Why did you ever think you could write in the first place? Obviously your talent has gone, fled to the far reaches of the atmosphere. You are sure it will never return.
Yes, the symptoms of Writer’s Block are obvious. But what is the cure? Well, just like falling off a horse, the best cure for Writer’s Block is to get back up and try again. Of course, that is not as easy as it sounds. Some writers have allowed the disease to last for years.
The best cure for Writer’s Block is a deadline. I had to get that article I mentioned done because an editor was waiting impatiently for it. If I didn’t get it finished, not only did I not get paid, I was letting someone down.
Set A Deadline. If you don’t have a deadline imposed by someone else, give yourself a deadline. Tell yourself that by a certain time you will have written a certain number of words. Then, even if you are not happy with those words, don’t erase them. Let it go and come back to the work in a day or two. You may find that what you have written doesn’t look so bad after you’ve slept on it. It may just need some fine tuning to reach your usual creative standard.
Do Some Research. Sometimes the problem is that you don’t have enough information. You may be missing a small piece of information, or you may need to spend some time researching your topic before you can write about it. This problem goes for fiction as well as nonfiction. Good fiction is based on knowledge. Your “research” may just take a different form. You may need to think more about your characters, flesh them out in your head, find out more about a setting or spend some time outlining your plot.
Check the Internet. Look at what other authors have said about your topic. Seeing how someone else has started a similar article may give you an idea how to write your own.
Walk Away. Take a break from your work and do something else for awhile. Just make sure you have written at least a few sentences so that you will have something to start on when you return to the work. Set a time to start on the piece again. Mark it on your calendar. Remember, the only real cure for Writer’s Block is to keep on writing.
While over 80% of Americans say they want to write a book, most never will. Karen Hodges Miller offers her 25-plus years of experience as writer, editor and publisher to entrepreneurial authors who want to realize that dream. She holds a variety of workshops and seminars each year on book writing, publishing and marketing. Karen’s experience as a freelance business reporter gives her a fresh outlook on the creative world of writers and the practical world of business owners. As founder of Open Door PublicationsSM LLC Karen has helped dozens of authors bring their own ideas to market; the company published almost two dozen books since 2006. Karen began authoring her own series of books for authors in 2010. “Finish Your Book! A Time Management Guide for Writers” is a practical and inspirational guide for the busy writer who must find time to write while juggling a business and personal life. “Sell Your Book, Think Outside the Bookstore,” to be published in April 2011, includes over 100 practical, specific tips for book marketing along with interviews with a variety of nationally-known publishing and marketing experts. Learn more about Karen at www.OpenDoorPublications.com