Writer’s block happens more often than I’d like to admit. It’s almost never the kind you see in stories, or that gets shown as what “writer’s block” is: a lack of ideas.
I don’t lack ideas. My brain is bursting with them. I barely have a chance to write one idea down before my mind has come up with 50 spin-off ideas from that one.
Currently I have one main Work In Progress — one novel I’m drafting that I’d like to finish.
In addition to that, I have
- 1 novel I’m editing
- the next book in the series after the one I’m editing
- a prequel to the series being drafted
- a prequel to my other series needing edits
- multiple unfinished drafts on my hard drive
Those are all things that have been partially or even fully written. The ideas I’ve not yet started to draft, but have written notes on? I have at least another 25 of those.
And then there are the incalculable ideas that have had NO notes written on them and I’m just hoping I don’t forget them by the time I can actually devote a spare second to them.
No, for me, Writer’s Block consists of:
- I am too exhausted to write
- I am too busy to write
- I am too stressed to write
Often when I’m exhausted and busy I still try to find time to write. I carve out small bits of time, here and there. But when I’m that exhausted and busy, chances are I’m really stressed too.
And stress wreaks havoc with creativity.
When I’m super stressed out, there’s little to no enjoyment in writing. It’s a chore. A job.
They say to treat your writing like a job if you ever want to make money at it….
I do want to make money at it, but I also want it to continue to be enjoyable for me.
Writing is my calling. It’s the thing that if I couldn’t do it anymore, I’m not sure I’d be able to go on with life.
Yes, I’d love to make a living with it, especially as nowadays that’s more possible than it ever has been before. It’s a goal I could conceivably reach (and I’m working on it).
But I need to temper that with still finding joy in writing. And no one likes their job.
Even when I was working in what I thought would be my final career, the one that I was super good at and was my “dream job” — I didn’t like going to work.
Worse, I find treating my writing like a job can actually contribute to the stress that fuels my writer’s block. When I’m thinking about my writing’s potential to make me money while trying to create, it becomes a stressor.
Writing isn’t the sort of job where I get paid just for showing up. The stuff I put out needs to be good if I want to make a paycheck on it. And that’s a hell of a lot of pressure to put on yourself when you should be focusing on creating.
That seems to be the main source of my blockages these days. Stress over money becomes “Well, you can make some on your writing!” becomes “You need this story to be perfect if you want to see some cash from it.”
What helps in this situation?
It’s okay if it’s shit. It’s okay if it’s shit. It’s okay if it’s shit.
And reminding myself that truly terrible books have made serious bank, catapulting their authors to untold amounts of wealth. Humans have wide and varied tastes, after all.
I don’t need it to be perfect. I need a minimum viable product.
And reminding myself of that — several hundred times a day — helps take off some of the pressure.
It’s okay if it’s shit. And even if it’s shit, someone will still buy it.