The truth is, writer’s block isn’t some kind of insurmountable hurdle that prevents you from accomplishing your goal. The hard truth is anyone can break through writer’s block, if they are willing to put in the work.
Writing is a job, plain and simple. It might not be as hard as other jobs. I doubt many writers come home as tired as someone busting rocks for a living. But writing is a demanding job that drains your mental capacity and in some cases, your emotions.
That’s really why some people use the excuse of writer’s block. They aren’t willing to confront the challenge that writing presents. How do you take a nugget of an idea and stretch it out into a complete story?
For the stories that have been written throughout history, every writer faces the same challenge. There are no perfect formulas or recipes you can blindly follow to easily produce a finished product.
Okay, I get it. Saying something like there’s no such thing as writer’s block is a pretty controversial thing. Even experienced writers say that writer’s block is real.
Some have written entire books on the subject. I’ve read about writers who stare at a blank page for hours, unable to come up with a single sentence.
I know, sometimes it’s hard to write. In fact, it can be very hard. But the concept of a mental “block” that prohibits you from finishing your story is not real.
But there is a real challenge that many writers face. One that can derail or upset the progress of a story/manuscript. A problem that is often mistaken for writer’s block is very real. But it can be overcome if you’re willing to work.
Oh yes, writing is work, just like any other craft. Writers just don’t sit down at a computer and watch the words fly onto the screen. Even the most prolific writers—who have produced countless books—didn’t start there.
The secret to all great writers is this: they write… A LOT.
The most personal stories can be the most powerful
One of the most challenging questions aspiring writers have is where to look for ideas.
Well, we’ve spent plenty of time over the last few weeks exploring that question. And why, it can easily be solved.
Ideas are everywhere. And the more you think about storytelling, the more you will be bursting with ideas. When you implement a few practical tools for harvesting ideas, you will never run out of ideas for stories.
That’s, honestly, the easy part. The hard part? Crafting a story that is unique, sincere, and will resonate with a reader.
Last week, I detailed how real-life events can be jumping-off points for stories. The fact is, some of the most popular movies, books, and series were based on real life. It gives your work a kind of credibility (even if you don’t put in the line “Based on a true story”) and give a story a foundation from which you can experiment.
But how can you make a story more authentic? In an age when so many people are producing content—most of which is shallow and clickbaity—how can your stories feel real and meaningful? How can you make sure your story is going to connect with a stranger, to the point where they want to care about it?
The biggest hurdle I see from newbie writers is that their idea for a story just isn’t original. “But it’s been done before!” is their common refrain. My friend, yes, it’s been done before. But not by you. If you want to write and finish a story others will hopefully enjoy, you have to let go of that fear.
Because, honestly, it’s just an excuse not to take the plunge.
Once you get over that, you have an entire world to explore for ideas. Even then, it might be hard.
Let’s start with what we know best: what’s really happening around us.
The dreaded question. Where do writers get their ideas?
I’ve been exploring this the past few weeks. I believe that writers don’t like to answer this question because—for a busy, accomplished writer—getting ideas is the easy part. Their creative subconscious is always churning out new ones.
But for someone that hasn’t been writing since they could hold a pencil, this seems like a daunting task. Especially in an age where there is so much media out there, it feels like all the good ideas have been done.
You can overcome that hurdle by taking risks, combining ideas into a new thing, and creating a process that nurtures and harvests new ideas.
For some writers, all of this is second nature. But for many, they had to learn a process so they could write consistently.
Because, and this is the rub my friends, if you’re not writing consistently, you’ll never finish your story.