ON OVERCOMING WRITER’S BLOCK

write

“If you hear a voice within you saying, “You are not a painter,” then by all means paint, boy, and that voice will be silenced, but only by working.” – Vincent Van Gogh, in a letter to his Brother, Theo.

Van Gogh knew a thing or two about painting. Turns out, his advice is pretty sound for every medium. Especially writing. If you write, you are a writer: even if you’ve never had anything published, or never completed a short story, you’re still a writer. The best way to improve your writing is to…write. Seems foolproof.

But we’ve all experienced blank days.

Days when the page stays empty, or life gets in the way.

There’s lots of advice out there on ways to get over these humps, here’s my take. Four simple points.

  • Discipline!

If you want to succeed then you’ve got to write anyway, even if it means forcing yourself to your desk, out of bed, down to the kitchen to get a new pen, taking five minutes out of your day in your busy (in bold because I know how your excuses work) schedule to say sorry to your friends, or family, or extremely urgent plans, and scribble something down so that you can at least tell yourself you’ve done something that day.

  • Seek attention! 

Gratitude for your writing is easy to find online. There are hundreds and hundreds of places you can post your work to seek some kind of reward from the public. When I was younger I first used WritersCafe.org, and I mean, when I was thirteen years old. If it wasn’t for this website I doubt I’d be where I am now, in terms of my writing skills. People’s positive response to my writing encouraged me to write, and write more and more, over the last 10 years.

  • Read!

This one is simple. I don’t know how many times, I’ve lost count, that I’ve opened a book and within fifteen minutes drifted off, thinking about this or that. This is the perfect moment to strike. Grab a pen and write down what you’re thinking, even if it’s about breakfast, or your best friend throwing up in the urinal last night. Reading opens up your mind and clears it at the same time. For as long as you’re willing you can use this to your advantage and rinse and repeat. Sometimes I find it’s better to read a book you don’t think is very good. What? Judging someone else’s writing makes yours seem better. That leads on to my next point.

  • Arrogance!

Weird one, but wow, is it important. If you don’t stop for a moment every day and say, I am an incredible writer, then you’re going to start feeling down. This advice applies pretty well to everyday life, too. Truth is, everyone wants to be a writer. There’s hundreds of opportunities for writers, and it might feel like nothing is going your way. If you start believing it’s because you’re bad, you’ll stop writing, which is exactly what this post is trying to get you to stop doing.

You’re a great writer.

I’ve got a lot of faith in you.

You just have to write.


You can check out my other “ON” posts below.

ON SIMPLICITY IN WRITING

ON AVOIDING CLICHÉ

ON HATING POETRY

53 thoughts on “ON OVERCOMING WRITER’S BLOCK

    • Go with the flow, that’s what I say. Do what you feel is right at the time. You’re right to say it’s not worth forcing it, write whatever you feel like writing, not what you think you should write.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes. I have found consistency to be integral to growth. Just as I will train for a race and must be consistent in the runs I do, art is no different. Just yesterday I sat down to write and felt dry. I wrote anyway. What I was left with was do terrible I wouldn’t read to my 6 yr old autistic son who struggles with language, BUT I wrote. And I need to continue until the flow returns. Always enjoy these.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I bet in that writing there was good one line. If each day produces one good line then you’ve done enough to satisfy the needs of a writer. There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when the inspiration returns after a long time. Like a wave!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I remember the first time it properly happened to me I was in the shower, and this whole story started forming in my head, like I could literally hear the words in my head just coming. Had to jump out and write it down.

        Like

  2. Thanks Harry for your motivating words. I have been letting excuses get in the way and, like exercise, when you stop it feels a lot harder to start again. I will keep your post open today as a reminder to just WRITE. I know once I get those muscles going again words will flow and I’ll remember that I am a writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the inspiration this morning, been feeling a bit down about my writing lately and been hard on myself about not doing enough in a day, but I guess as long as you’ve written SOMETHING, it is still of worth 🙂 I’ll have to give sites like Writer’s Cafe a go too. Incidentally, I’ll also take the opportunity to say that if anyone wants to drop by my blog and give feedback, please feel free! It seems difficult to get any…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. There’s no such thing as writers block, just lack of focus and the inability to hold onself accountable. Put death on the line and I guarantee you’ll overcome a lot of mental blocks while your alive. Writers block doesn’t exist to the truly creative artist, if his mission is to avoid what the uncreative experiences he must focus on longevity and self accountability. It’s either you do or don’t, you either can or can’t, it’s this that separates work ethic that need constant motivation from raw untapped talent the produces effortlessly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved the encouragement! Especially since I have been having difficulty with my poetry as of late. I never have a problem writing my other material, it’s just my poetry right now is woefully absent. Nice job!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: ON MEAT AND HOUSES | Seal Matches

  7. Pingback: ON FIRST SENTENCES | Seal Matches

  8. Pingback: On ‘In Patagonia’: get me out of this office | Seal Matches

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s