I used to think that writer’s block was a silly nuisance in a writer’s life. I never took it seriously, because I never struggled with finding ideas. I never left a blank page blank. Then one day I abandoned writing. This hiatus lasted a number of years. Not because I couldn’t produce new work, but because I didn’t have the courage to write. As I look back on that period in my life, I have to wonder if that was a form of writer’s block. When we avoid writing even when we have bountiful ideas, even when we know what we want to say?
Wikipedia defines writer’s block as such:
“Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some “blocked” writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers.”
Fear has the power to stop writers from writing. The power to stop writers from sharing their work. The power to stop writers from pursuing their dream. I believe fear is the seed that produces writer’s block. I know there are other cited reasons (overly complex storylines, lack of inspiration, etc.). I think it all is rooted in fear.
How does a writer combat fear? Each writer will have a different solution, but I think all these solutions launch from one emotion (just like writer’s block stems from fear).
Writing excites us. It is this passion, this desire, this need to write that is strong enough to overcome fear. The battle will take place in your soul, not on paper or the computer. You first have to establish that this is what you’re going to do–no matter what. It is a pact made between your logical, sensible self and your writer, creative self. If you can band those two together–build a team, a force, a unit–then you will be able to fend off the fear.
This means you have to want to write badly enough, and you have to be prepared for anything. You also have to be willing to pick yourself up and fight again. And again. And you have to remember that you are not alone.
… … … … …
If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage. —Cynthia Ozick
Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up. —Jane Yolen
There is no satisfactory explanation of style, no infallible guide to good writing, no assurance that a person who thinks clearly will be able to write clearly, no key that unlocks the door, no inflexible rules by which the young writer may steer his course. He will often find himself steering by stars that are disturbingly in motion. —E. B. White
Writing is thinking on paper. —William Zinsser
If you haven’t got an idea, start a story anyway. You can always throw it away, and maybe by the time you get to the fourth page you will have an idea, and you’ll only have to throw away the first three pages. —William Campbell Gault
Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. —E.L. Doctorow
I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I’m one of the world’s great rewriters. I find that three or four readings are required to comb out the cliches, line up pronouns with their antecedents, and insure agreement in number between subject and verbs…My connectives, my clauses, my subsidiary phrases don’t come naturally to me and I’m very prone to repetition of words; so I never even write an important letter in the first draft. I can never recall anything of mine that’s ever been printed in less than three drafts. You write that first draft really to see how it’s going to come out. —James A. Michener
A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. —Sidney Smith
Resistance is fear. But resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form. Why? Because if Resistance lets us see clearly that our own fear is preventing us from doing our work, we may feel shame at this. And shame may drive us to act in the face of fear. —Steven Pressfield
I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done. —Stephen Wright
There is always the risk that you may disappoint yourself. That risk is there even for productive writers, as most writers don’t write as often as they would like. Because of this reality, you will need to practice self-forgiveness. —Eric Maisel
Don’t feel guilty about being afraid of the blank page. Don’t think you aren’t a writer if you don’t rush to the computer first thing when you get up in the morning in order to face the empty page. Writing is hard work. Filling up an empty page with your thoughts, your pains, your joys, and your creative ideas takes immense courage. —Rachel Ballon
Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer. —Barbara Kingsolver
Once we are aware of our fears, we are almost always capable of being more courageous than we think. Someone once told me that fear and courage are like lightning and thunder; they both start out at the same time, but the fear travels faster and arrives sooner. If we just wait a moment, the requisite courage will be along shortly. —Lawrence Block
Work inspires inspiration. Keep working. If you succeed, keep working. If you fail, keep working. If you are interested, keep working. If you are bored, keep working. —Michael Chrichton
A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than for others. —Thomas Mann
By writing much, one learns to write well. —Robert Southey
Do you have a favorite quote to share that fends off the fear and inspires you to write?