Writer’s Block is a cow. I think in my case it’s a Friesian who sidles up to my desk with a loud “Moooo!” and puts me off my thoughts.
I never used to suffer from Writer’s Block; as a child I had a disgustingly fertile imagination and always had a story or two in progress. I was still busily writing fiction in my twenties and thirties. And now I have half-formed ideas which I jot down in note form and can’t take to fruition. It’s very annoying.
I open my half-baked novel, read through it to date with the odd edit or two, decide it’s coming along nicely and then only manage three sentences in thirty minutes, if I’m lucky.
So I procrastinate. I work on client tasks. I read new emails. I look for daft stuff on eBay or catch up with my favourite blogs. I make a cup of tea. I weed the flower and veggie beds, going through plots and imagined conversations in my head.
But still that screen remains resolutely blank when I get back to it.
Clearly I’m not alone. Type in “writer’s block” in Google and you’ll get more than 2.5 million results. Type in “overcome writer’s block” and there are nearly 150,000.
Part of my problem is not being able to separate my non-fiction workload from my fiction work. As a self-employed freelancer I get clients with urgent demands which take precedence. And then there’s the non-urgent stuff which gnaws at me while I’m trying to write, reminding me that I should be doing it. Even at weekends it’s hard to turn non-fiction/business work off; typically I work at least one day of any given weekend as well as weekdays. Websites, meetings and other client projects nag at me, even waking me at 2am. Fiction writing takes a back seat these days.
The end result is that when I’m not working, I just want time away from the computer. I want to switch off and do physical things – exercise, shopping, just getting out and about and enjoying the fresh air. Or reading someone else’s fiction!
For a while last year I tried setting aside an hour every day to write, but the urgent stuff encroached, and then the non-urgent. By mid-February the hour had vanished. I just couldn’t concentrate on writing fiction knowing there was so much else that needed doing and had a more urgent deadline than my novel. By year’s end I was climbing the walls with stress.
I’m now researching tips such articles like this to see what can free my Writer’s Block; I suspect however what I need to do first is to learn to switch off and not respond to client requests outside working hours. Then go back to setting a time each day to write. Treat my fiction as part of my general workload.
Has Writer’s Block ever mooed at you? Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction/business writing? What did you do to overcome it?