How I Killed My Block

Ages ago I wrote a post on writer’s block. While I stand by what I wrote there, I’ve recently experienced a weird kind of block that I can’t exactly put my finger on. I think it’s a combination of writing exhaustion, general exhaustion (school, I blame you) and perfectionism. Even then that list doesn’t feel quite apt. My lack of reading recently could also be a contributing factor, along with the stress of having homework that involves a disgusting amount of research, forcing me to sit at the computer and attempt to focus while I have distractions available right at my fingertips.

So what finally broke this block? I think it was a number of things.

First, I started reading again. I read two books that I absolutely adored, and I also read a bit of the Strunk and White version of The Elements of Style. I did much of that on the sly when my mother wasn’t checking up on my homework. I began to enjoy writing again when I tried doing other homework–reading for Literature class–and needed regular breaks from the book, which I am not going to name because the very thought of it makes me what to stab something. Reading the book also gave me license to step away from my computer. This gave me a more appropriate environment to handwrite my novel.

At this point I had also finished writing a section of new stuff for Coldfire that I was struggling with, due to the perfectionism problem. Once I’d done that I wrote another section that I hadn’t planned but loved all the same. I seem to have trouble with the sections that I have planned out well in advance, the ones that have been stewing around in my head for a while. They’re the ones that also never live up to my expectations.

So how to I describe this block? As a melting pot of various problems, each feeding each other.

My solution: take breaks, get through the section that’s giving you strife if you can, do something that requires a completely different mindset, step away from your computer, and read. I’m not sure if any of these solutions provided the vital tipping point, or whether they simply accumulated until things got better. Finishing the difficult section was possibly the most important part for me, as I write chronologically. For people who don’t, I guess the alternative would be to work on something you can do. Sometimes, however, a problem remains a problem and it won’t go away unless you address it.

So don’t shy away from difficult sections of writing, but don’t ignore the possible reasons for the struggle. Feed your mind with books and get it working different ways with other tasks unrelated to writing. Blocks are not permanent.

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