I do not want to write this morning. I'm sitting in front of my computer, a cup of coffee cooling into an undrinkable sludge to my right, and my cursor is blinking defiantly on the empty page. Every time I reach inside my brain for a topic, I come up empty. It's been hours.
I just don't want to write.
Today, we're going to talk about Writer's Block. It is as common a topic in writer forums as "Best Ways to Store that First Pressing of Dostoevsky," or "That New Librarian Would Look Amazing if She Let Her Hair Down." And it's fake.
Writer's Block is fake.
Now before you throw full soy-mocha-latte-half-cafs at your laptop and get kicked out of CoffeeBucks, allow me to explain.
Writing is hard. Really hard. As Hemingway put it, you slit your wrists and bleed onto the pages. So it's natural that there will be days where nothing feels right. You want to put words onto paper, but the chemistry is off. Your brain is broken. That's okay. In fact, that's true of just about any creative endeavor. There are times when a painter doesn't want to paint, or a master chef just wants a microwaved burrito, or a hitman just wants to garden. But here is the deal:
This isn't your hobby. This is your life.
Writer's block is an excuse. A way to get over the fact that an idea is panning out the way you wanted. It is a reason to hold off on editing that manuscript, or killing off that character, or changing the ending on your screenplay. The block is all mental, and it can be broken.
How do you break out of Writer's Block? There are a variety of tried and true methods, ranging from the "draw until you can see the scene," to "free-base cookie dough until sadness=talent."
I used to draw my scenes, but then I realized I am a terrible artist. Nowadays, I free-write. I sit down with a blank page and throw words at the board. I don't consider plot or context or even genre. I just get thoughts out onto paper. Consider it the "stick your finger in the ketchup bottle" method of getting past the blockage.
After a few minutes of dumping my thoughts out, I feel clearer. I'm warmed up, stretched out, and ready to get back into the world. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, sometimes I need to burn an hour before I'm ready. The point is, you have to break the block. You have to shake off the yips. You have to grow up and get over it. This is your job now, and you don't get "off days."
It's okay to say "I don't want to write today," but make sure you have a valid reason. Did you just finish a manuscript and you need a day or two to cool off? Sure thing. You've accomplished the impossible, so take a moment to ease off the gas. Maybe you're trying to get into the mindset of a new character. Fine.
But don't let "today" become "this week." Don't allow a little slow down to completely throw off your game. It's easy to get complacent in any activity, and losing a routine is a lot easier than building one.
Understand that a million writers have been in your exact position before. Most never got over it. Don't be like them. Be like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. Be like Terry Pratchett and Tom Clancy. Hell, be like R.L. Stine.
Get back to the computer and write. Your characters depend on it.