When you write for any amount of time and for any purpose, a dry spell in creativity is inevitable
We call that writer’s block. Writer’s block is not illustrative of your writing abilities or lack thereof, and it can happen to any writer, even famous published authors! What you have to know about it is that it can be overcome, and you can get those creative juices flowing again in no time. Here are some tips from the above-mentioned famous writers on dealing with writer’s block.
- Phillip Pullman and Barbara Kingsolver are both of the opinion that writer’s block does not actually exist and that it’s an affliction that only plagues people who are not real writers. Whether that’s a serving of tough love or what they genuinely think, their solution is apparently simple: just write. Write, write, continue writing something, anything.
Phillip Pullman likes to compare writers to plumbers
Does a plumber stop working and complain about a block when he doesn’t know what to do? No, he keeps on… plumbing, I guess. So that’s what you should do.
- Other authors, like Norman Mailer or Isabel Allende like the ultimatum approach. In other words, setting a date to write and then just sitting down and writing. They both famously decide to start writing at a certain date and thus, they are already – perhaps unconsciously –preparing the story in their heads, sketching out the characters, pulling words out of thin air, etc.
- In complete opposition to the previous technique of Kingsolver and Pullman, Orson Scott Card doesn’t believe that writing through it works. Instead, he advises going back and reviewing what you wrote so far because some part of it is not believable or important; otherwise, it would inspire you to write further.
- And now, for some wisdom from the great Mark Twain, who was a fan of breaking down daunting tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. The key to get over it is to get started, according to him; break it up into small increments and start from the beginning. The rest should flow from there.
- In the vein of just writing anything, Maya Angelou was known to have been a believer in calling her muse by just sitting down and writing, even if it was boring stuff. Sooner or later, inspiration is bound to hit, right?
- Something to think about is whether you actually like what you are writing. Does it bring you joy? Are you enjoying the process, and are you enjoying what you are creating? Is it coming from your imagination, or is it something you feel that you must write to appease someone socially, politically, etc.? Ray Bradbury was of the opinion that writer’s block was a sign that you don’t like what you’re writing, so maybe it’s time to change your tune.
- John Steinbeck gave a wonderful piece of advice once, telling a young writer to just imagine he was writing to a loved one. Maybe your writer’s block is caused by the fact that you are unsure of how to convey your story to your audience, whether it is the public, an editor, etc. Switch gears and imagine you’re writing to your sibling, or mother, or best friend, and it should come easier.
- A brilliant piece of advice comes from Ernest Hemingway, who had a very good trick to circumvent writer’s block. The technique is simple: when you are writing, instead of taking your idea to its inevitable end, leave it hanging. If you know what’s going to happen next and what you plan to write, just leave it for the next day. That way, you are never faced with a blank page or with no idea of what is going to happen.