By Steve Morrill
Writers Block is the high blood pressure of the writing profession, a disease that sneaks
up and affects us in such a variety of ways that it is not easily diagnosed or defeated. One day we're all enthused about
our next writing project. Thirty days later we hate the thought of the project because we haven't done anything much in the
previous month. And we don't know what happened.
I've thought about this for more than twenty years, possible a record for procrastination.
At first I simply did not believe there was such a thing as writer's block. I got into writing by writing for money, to tight
deadlines with unforgiving editors. I was tossed into the deep end of the pool and I knew I either had to grow gills or learn
to swim. I learned to swim. Looking around at all the writers drowning around me, I could not understand what their problems
Obviously, many writers aren't very good at it and they will not get better without education
and practice. But that's a given. What I'm talking about is writers who are perfectly capable of doing the mechanical parts,
who know the King's English better than I do, but who, as the saying goes, "Stare at a sheet of white paper until droplets
of blood appear on their foreheads." What's wrong with these people?
I think I know now. They don't have deadlines, and they subordinate their creative urge
to their other lifestyle demands. They have not yet made the decision to put writing foremost in their lives. So all their
best intentions just…slide.
I've done it myself, though not often, and, in my own experience three things happen:
1) A big project that has no intermediate deadlines can be postponed because there are
more urgent things to do with our time and the deadline is a long way off. We keep doing this until the big project is upon
us and now we are in big trouble. But it happens in such small increments that we never see it sneaking up. Its like the big
project is playing Simple Simon with us. And winning.
- SOLUTION: Establish incremental deadlines. Make each one a do-able deadline in the near
2) A big project is intimidating because it's so—big—that we can't see how
we will start it, let alone complete it. So (1) happens.
- SOLUTION: As with (1) establish small goals, mini-projects, that ARE do-able and not
3) Sometimes (not always) the problem is that our subconscious knows that we really do
not want to do this project and so takes advantage of our tendency to fall for items (1) and (2).
- SOLUTION: Finish the project anyway just because that is good discipline for you. Then
never take on another like it.
4) We are not accustomed to doing this kind of work and need more discipline. Writing
requires that you be a self-starter and, more, able to self-start and keep at it, even in a house or office filled with distractions
and people telling you that other things are more important. Successful writers think WRITING is more important and order
their lives to revolve around their writing.
Don't know if that helps, but it might.
is a professional freelance writer based in Tampa, Florida.
He is also the
Director/Administrator of an online writers school called,
The school teaches
every facet of the writing profession.