How To Crack Writer's Block & Deal With Self-Judgement

March 07, 2022 4 min read

1 Comment

By Author Susan E. Wadds

Few writers get through life without excruciating moments of staring at a bouncing cursor, or writing paragraphs only to obliterate them with paper-shredding pen scratches.  

The answer to writer's block is simple.Natalie Goldberg said to just about anyone who struggled, “Write anyway.”

So simple. And yet maybe not what you want to hear. Don't worry, though most writing advice does boil down to this deceptively simple instruction, I'm not going to leave you there (yet).

To write, one only needs a scrap of paper, a restaurant napkin, the back of a hand. But for those who endeavour to write meaningfully, it can cost hours of sleep, bits of hair, the loss of a social life, not to mention the crippling belief that one is an imposter. 

But don’t let that stop you. Writing confidently takes practice.

How to Boost Your Writing Confidence

Pay attention. Take risks. Listen. Read. Get uncomfortable. Stare off into the distance. Write crap. Tell the truth. Write more crap. Write with no pants on. Write with a wide-open heart. With your heart in a fist. Write with closed eyes. Open them and keep your hand on the rudder while you steer into the fierce winds of fear and doubt. 

Write scared. Write pissed off. Write when you don’t care. Write when you do.

But what do you do when you still can’t? When you hit a wall you're unable to write through? A wall scrawled with graffiti saying It’s all crap, who cares. Or, Why bother?

How to Push Past Writer's Block

I could tell you to persevere, to push beyond that imaginary wall, and bravely keep writing, keep trying to tell the truth and that you may just come to a shimmering pot of pure gold.

Want advanced tips for reducing distractions, overcoming writer's block, and boosting creative confidence? Book a 1-on-1 consultation with Writing Coach Lyndsay Carder.

And that might work. Sometimes it works for me. But here are some other tips and tricks that may suit you better.

1. Take a Break

Sometimes you might need to just take a nap, have a shower, or go outside and take several long, deep breaths.

2. Make a Writing Date With A Friend

A simple date to write with a friend, online or in person, could be the thing to nudge the muse. Accountability helps, trust me. A word of caution though, especially if you’ve been demoralized by criticism: choose your writing partner(s) with care.

When you give feedback, make sure to note what is working, the strengths in a piece. Criticism is constructive, but we need encouragement, too. We are far more likely to keep writing if we believe our work has some merit.

So often in my workshops, writers show up exhausted, drained, or blocked, certain they have nothing to offer. But they’ve shown up and that’s the key. Because what happens after a few writing prompts and timed writing heats is nothing short of miraculous.

Poems have been birthed, essays unearthed, and stories revealed that take away the breath. Without exception, at least one writer will comment something to the effect of, “I didn’t think I could write anything worthwhile today, but I’m so pleased with what I’ve accomplished.” 

Making a date with at least one other writer is a great way to get rolling again. Using a wide open prompt can help get the pen moving—something simple such as using a word like wind, skin, hide, or wonder works to spark the imagination without restricting it. 

3. Take a Workshop or Enrol in a Course

If you’re still stuck, attend a workshop or take a course.

There are many marvellous teachers who’ve developed methods to help the writer drop down into what Jack Grapes calls the Deep Voice, what Barbara Turner-Vesselago of Freefall Writing calls writing “fearward,” and what Pat Schneider of AWA refers to as one’s original or authentic voice.

Out-of-the-box facilitators who help the writer come in “slant” as Emily Dickenson once wrote can help bypass constraints that cut off one’s authentic voice.

Innovative methods offer fresh perspectives and novel entry points for your work, bumping you out of familiar patterns that may have shut you down.

For me, it’s been those visionary facilitators who hold a safe space that have enabled me to chip off what’s superfluous, clear away the ‘shoulds’ of how to write, and given me a path into what is truly mine. They’ve held out a hand as I descend into vulnerable, risky, sometimes dangerous writing. 

So, what do we do when the voice that tells us we’re an imposter, who tells us It’s all crap, Who cares, or Why bother is louder than the click of keys or scratch of pen? 

Are you ready for the short answer now? 

Take a nap.

Breathe.

Write with a friend.

Read a book.

Take a workshop.

Go for a walk.

And…

Write anyway. 

Want advanced tips for reducing distractions, overcoming writer's block, and boosting creative confidence? Book a 1-on-1 consultation with Writing Coach Lyndsay Carder.

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

1 Response

Steph
Steph

March 14, 2022

Deepam, I loved this piece. It has so much punch in it that I don’t think I’ll get writer’s block again. I’ll just take your advice. Much thanks for your valuable tips.

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