Defeating writer’s block: You gotta have faith

In Writing on April 18, 2012 at 9:02 am

Every writer will find him or herself, now and then, faced with the dilemma of not knowing what to write. Monthly, weekly, maybe even daily, we face bouts of writer’s block of varying severity — but whether it’s just a five-minute blank or a month-long drought, the means of overcoming it is simple: you gotta have faith.

Faith (George Michael song)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not talking about George Michael’s soul-stirring*, life-affirming, guilty-pleasuring (that sounds wrong) 80s hit — I’m talking about the belief that, no matter what, no matter how blocked you may be, you will always, in the end, come up with something incredible to put on the page.

OK, maybe that sounds more like arrogance to you, but to me it’s just about persistence. Because the trick is simply to never give up on a project when you’re blocked.

Let’s say you’re working on an essay but you just can’t come up with anything to write. You sit at you desk for an hour, two hours; you go for a run; you eat a pint of Phish Food ice cream; you Wikipedia articles about narwhals — whatever. As long as you never, at any point, say to yourself ‘I’m just not going to bother writing this essay,’ then you’re all set! If, even a week after starting the project, you come up with something, then that’s all it takes!

It’s frustrating while it lasts, but sticking it out this time is crucial for the effect it will have on the next time you face writer’s block. Because next time you’ll be able to say to yourself ‘well, I’ve always been able to come up with something in the past, so there’s no reason I won’t come up with something this time’ — and you’ll be right! Your confidence will be higher, you’ll be more relaxed, and without a doubt you’ll overcome your writer’s block even more quickly than the time before.

So, like I said, it takes faith. And even if that faith comes from stubbornness, perseverance and an unshakable belief in your own greatness (or, you know, arrogance), it’s still faith. So, baby, next time you’re struggling with writer’s block, before that river becomes an ocean — and surely before you throw your heart down on the floor — just reconsider that foolish notion and wait for something more.

You gotta have faith.


* I’m being facetious. Sort of.

  1. I agree. Faith is extremely important to the writing process. When I get stuck, it helps me to read books about writing. Or read an especially shocking novel, something that keeps me turning the page and makes me want to write my own again. This is how I ended up reading about zombies… because I wanted something shocking. Then I started blogging about zombies. Before you know it, they’ll manage to show up in my book (my next one, anyway).

    • That’s a good strategy — not just reading something shocking, but doing anything that’s so fundamentally different from whatever it is that you’re working on that it sort of shakes you out of your funk. Listening to 80s music, for instance.

  2. […] Defeating writer’s block: You gotta have faith ( […]

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  5. Writer’s block? It is just the time to get up and do something else. Physical exercise is very important. Our body needs action to avoid atrophy.

  6. […] Defeating writer’s block: You gotta have faith ( […]

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