This blog's been on a break, so I thought I'd start the month with a piece on writer's block.
Block is cited by many creatives as a reason for not being able to write when they want or need to. It's not the preserve of fiction writers though: anyone who writes regularly can find themselves unable to get the words out. So is block a useful description and what can it tell us about how to get round the problem?
In my opinion, writer's block isn't a terribly helpful term. It suggests a single cause and a single solution, neither of which is true. If you're having trouble writing, you have to be more specific about what's not working. The next time you're struggling, try these diagnises and the corresponding techniques to get back on track.
You don't know what to write about (1): Ask the question whether you really have a writing need first. If there are no ideas burning their way out, then that's a message you need to listen to. However, any creative stimulus will help you come up with some new ideas. I'll do more on this in a later post, but for now try the free writing method - write whatever comes into your head for 3 minutes, with absolutely no self-editing. See where it takes you.
You don't know what to write about (2): Perhaps you have too many ideas and don't know which one to go with first. Well, thank your lucky stars then write down the first five ideas that spring to mind. There's a reason they were the first five out ...
You don't know how to start:
Then don't start at the beginning. There's no law that says you have to
start any writing with the first sentence. Start anywhere you like then
fill the gaps.
You don't think you're good enough: Self-criticism is a very destructive mental process, but it's just that. It's only you telling yourself that what you're about to write is rubbish. So what do you know? Let others be the judge of the quality of what you write, learn from any feedback you get, and keep getting better. Not writing, just in case it's not good enough, is a crime.
Keep writing, all the time, and you won't go too far wrong.