In order to write we need to write. Although this sounds incredibly obvious, it is very easy to carry ideas about what to write in our mind without putting words on the page. This can happen for days on end and it can feel like we are doing something about our writing without any writing actually happening. Thinking about ideas, even jotting down notes is certainly part of the work of writing. Alas, until it’s written on the page it’s not really writing.
There are various theories about writers’ block and what it is, whether it actually exists and what can be done to overcome it. The general consensus seems to be that the experience of not getting words on the page is actually very common and writers often refer to periods of time when the act of writing just didn't happen. There does, however, seem to be some conjecture about whether it is actually a “block” or something else, like self doubt.
There seems to be one agreed response or treatment for the “block” or self doubt. Simply: to write. To begin with a word on the page and to write something, anything at all. This stops the ruminating thoughts that can abound when writing is not happening. It stops the feeling of helplessness. It stops the pressure which over time can become debilitating. The longer the writing stays stuck the harder it is to break through.
Seeing this “block” or self doubt as a normal experience of writers can be helpful. Knowing that everyone experiences it, knowing it is so common, can help us all to feel better about the experience.
To notice it, reflect on it and then act to overcome it can make a difference. The reflecting process may provide the opportunity for us to explore what writing means to us, why we are in fact writing, what outcome we are looking for and how we feel about what we write. These can then guide us and even become part of the solution to the problem.
If we want to write for ourselves it doesn't really matter what others think. If we want to write for a particular audience we might want to seek some help to get the writing to a point where we feel others can read it and gain something from it. If we are struggling with how we feel about our writing, sharing the experience with others can be really helpful.
When we think about writers’ block we might be able to relate it to other areas of our lives. Writing can parallel other experiences we have had when feeling stuck or lacking confidence in our ability. Drawing on what we have done in other areas of our lives might help us to work out the way to move through the experience of writers’ block.
Appreciating it as part of the writers’ journey can help make it more acceptable and be seen as just part of the experience of writing.