How could I let this happen?
It’s twenty minutes before the time my weekly blog post is supposed to go up, and I’m sitting on the couch, staring at the devastatingly empty draft post on my laptop screen. My cursor blinks pitifully against the unforgiving expanse of blank space until I close out of the tab with a plaintive sigh.
Maybe I can touch up one of those posts I started writing a few months ago. Maybe the one about writer’s block, I tell myself. And for the tenth time that day, I click open my drafts folder and scroll futilely through the dozens of half thought-out blogging ideas that I began over a cup of coffee and then promptly abandoned once my self-doubt caught up with my eagerness.
But none of them speak to me, and the time slips away mercilessly. This is pointless.
I close my laptop in frustration and decide to skip this week. Again. I pick up my phone, open YouTube, and jump back into the numbingly comfortable pit of procrastination. My subconscious bitterly reminds me of all those years ago, when I swore off creative writing because of the suffocating, insurmountable hurdle that befell me every single time I picked up a pencil or opened an empty word-processor document…
Writer’s block. The term has become ubiquitous in the blogosphere and in the world of writing in general. But what does it really mean?
Is writer’s block the lack of ideas? The lack of energy? Is it correlated to burnout? How common is it, really? Could the act of labeling your lack of literary loquaciousness only serve to make it worse?
When I was younger, my friends and I would spend months waiting for what we unanimously called inspiration– the elusive and enthusiastic “feeling” that would catapult us into writing twenty pages of a new novel one Saturday morning. Inspiration never failed to dry up after a few days, though, and I was left with hundreds (yes, hundreds) of long-forgotten first chapters collecting figurative dust in cyberspace.
Eventually, I decided I wasn’t good at creative writing, and I haven’t tried to write anything creatively for probably three years. (I still haven’t regained the confidence — or the free time– to try my hand at creative writing, but it’s been in the back of my mind for a while.)
Regardless of the type of writing I focus on, though, I still haven’t changed. I mentioned in my last post that I have 68 draft posts sitting in my WordPress dashboard, and that wasn’t an exaggeration. Probably half of them only have a title and a few sentences. (It’s bad) The majority of my blog posts are written in one sitting, because I like to write them when the ideas are fresh in my mind. When I’m feeling passionate about what I have to say.
It’s kind of like “mood reading”– but that’s a discussion post for another day. The problem with this approach is that it’s really, really hard to write a blog post on a week when I’m not in a blogging mood. Multiply that with the huge workload I’ve brought upon myself and my perfectionism complex, and it becomes nearly impossible to post consistently.
I’ve been struggling with blogging burnout and writer’s block on and off since the fall, which coincidentally was when school started, and the main thing I’ve noticed is that my writer’s block rages the most when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed. The worst and most paradoxical part, though, is that missing posts or being unable to write anything only makes me feel more stressed. I think it’s fair to claim that writer’s block can absolutely be related to burnout.
What I’m starting to wonder, though, is whether calling this problem writer’s block only makes it harder to overcome.
Has it become a self-fulfilling prophecy? A never-ending downward spiral into substance-less, parched prose?
The longer I think about it, the more I start to believe that the only practical way to deal with writer’s block, unless you’re willing to sit around for potential eons and wait for inspiration to strike you, is to just sit down and churn something out.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This post has become a veritable river of rambling, but it is the product of me forcing myself to write something. Other times, I can’t seem to get past the ruthless mental block that tells me my daily allotted creativity has run out.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? How do you deal with it? Do you think wallowing in your writer’s block can cause a downward spiral?
Feel free to let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading today’s post!