Writer’s Block: A Truly Painful Affliction

By J. Christy McKibben

You have a deadline and you are completely stumped. You’re told you can write about anything. It is truly liberating…until you begin the actual process of writing. You try one idea, then another, and then another. None of your ideas are clicking. There is just no inspiration, no flow. You try jotting down subjects. Still nothing. Then you start creating titles, certainly that will get the creative juices flowing…

“Cats vs. Dogs”; “The Stigma of Depression”; “Autumn: The Preeminent Time of Year”; “Three Ways to Break Your Blah Routine”; “Discovering Opportunity through Adversity”; “The Urge to Escape”; “Is There a Plan?”; “What is the Plan?”; “Who Wrote the Plan?” You’ve spent hours, even days on these possibilities, but you’re just not feeling “it.” Merriam-Webster defines writer’s block as “the problem of not being able to think of something to write about or not being able to finish writing a story, poem, etc.” Yes, we’ve all had this problem at one time or another, but how can we overcome it?

Take a Hike

Many writers will tell you to put away your work. Get some distance from it. Don’t look at it for a couple of days if possible. Others will tell you to go get some fresh air, jog, take a hike, dance. Some will encourage you to do something else creative: paint, draw, create pottery, play music. How about napping, reading a book, or just watching some television? You’ve tried each and every one of these options, but none of them have worked? This is starting to feel like a serious problem.

Maybe a list or an outline of what you want to write about will work. You begin to write…the differences between cats and dogs: cats say “meow” and dogs say “woof.” No, that won’t work. You jot down a list of why autumn is better than the other seasons: cooler weather, no more air conditioning, sweaters and sweatshirts, the changing leaves, pumpkins, Halloween, the new season of The Walking Dead. Now you just feel like you’re losing your mind. Maybe you are…

Just Give Up Already

Perhaps you are making this process too hard. Mark Twain stated “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Or, maybe you just need to give in, as I have, and write an article about the confirmedly excruciating affliction also known as writer’s block. It’s your call.

J. Christy McKibben

Image via Pixabay by congerdesign


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