It’s the arch-nemesis of writers everywhere: the dreaded writer’s block. While I consider myself a little bit of a prolific writer, the only things I produce often are ideas. Those ideas, for the most part, don’t ever get past the first 20 or so pages. I’ve been fighting writer’s block at every twist and turn since I was twelve years old, and it doesn’t get any easier. Right now, all I want to do is get to the next chapter of the book, but all I can think about is how I don’t know what’s going to be on the next page. It’s frustrating, and I know I’m not the only one it’s happened to. And it’s definitely not the last time it will happen.
In times like these, I think back to a creative writing class I took a few semesters ago. In it, we read a book titled Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. Usually, I never went out of my way to actually get my readings done in school, but this was one of those books that kept me interested. Mainly, it helped me deal with writer’s block, if only a little bit. In the first part of the book, in particular, was the phrase that would get me through the second half of my first manuscript: “Shitty First Draft.” She devotes an entire section to how important it is to realize that no one just sits down and spits out a masterpiece. Up until that point, I wanted to be one of the people who did. Of course, that was naive and silly of me to think. It was an eye-opening reading, one that made me a lot more comfortable with my writing and how I approached showing first drafts to my peers.
So, this post is kind of a reminder to myself and a bit of a pep talk to anyone suffering writer’s block. It’s not the end of the world if the words that come out don’t feel like the right ones. Or if the words don’t come out at all. Force them out if you have to, and keep in mind that editing is a constant process. Another tidbit that has helped me get through particularly rough spots in my writing has been drawing. My drawing skills are that of a eleven year old obsessed with manga, but it gets the job done. Sometimes, translating the pictures in your head into pictures on a page helps you translate the pictures into words. Even if you can’t draw, try. Or, if you really don’t want to try, Google images that remind you of your story or idea. Immerse yourself in the idea until it comes out of you in waves, and you can’t contain it anymore.
The important thing is to get the idea out, because suffocating an idea, keeping it inside until it drives you nuts, isn’t very healthy. Writers are crazy, sure, but we’re the good kind of crazy. Don’t be the bad kind.