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Is It Writer’s Block, Fatigue or Something Else?

writer's blockOkay, it’s not writer’s block. I know, because look, here’s a whole blog post.

Actually I don’t believe in writer’s block for me, which is another story.

Today I spent about an hour trying to get started writing my regular Thursday morning post. Finally I just stopped and looked inside, asking myself what was going on. My next thought was another question, “how do you feel?”

Well, I felt tired. You know, that sense close to tightness around your eyes when you don’t get enough sleep? Like that. Except I got good sleep last night.

My next realization is I feel as if I’ve done way too much work this week.

Perhaps I have in a way. The problems of this site were draining and they started exactly a week ago. That Thursday I realized I couldn’t do anything myself. I had, however spent several hours talking to various techs and being on hold. Although I’d been calmer than normal over tech problems, it still was a drain I’m sure, even though I wasn’t really aware of it… in fact, it might have been less of a drag if I had noticed that I was upset.

Here are my methods of dealing with this not uncommon problem:

When writer’s block starts, get quiet and go within

Ask yourself a question like why can’t I write? Chances are you’ll get some sort of an answer, even it is well this is a dumb exercise!” Don’t be surprised if a bit of understanding creeps in. It may be enough to get you started.

A friend of mine recently lost her mother and told me it’s was awfully hard to get started writing in the beginning – grief will do that to you. She also said that her grief has eased a bit now and writing actually helps distract her and feel useful again. Emotions can cut either way. Honor you emotions – suppressing the often makes it worse, at least in my experience.

Change your state

This morning I gave up and went to the kitchen to start breakfast. By the time I’d gotten the bacon and eggs started I had the title for this peace firmly in mind. In fact I turned the stove off, rushed to the computer and wrote the title just in case I developed a case of forgetfulness.

Moving away from the computer, standing up, pacing around your office, or, if weather permits taking a short walk – any of these will help your mind stop thinking about how poorly the writing is going and allow your creative part to generate some ideas.

Ask for help with writer’s block

If your ability to write last more than say several days, or you sense you’re starting to get stuck on the idea you can’t write now, it may be time to reach out for some help.

That help could come from a writing friend, a writing group or even a therapist who has come understanding of the creative process and how it can get blocked.

What do you do when you get stuck and the writing won’t come? Tell us in comments please.

Writer well and often,

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Ah, excellent point, Laurence. Sometimes it is a section rather than the whole piece. And good for you for letting your clients know that you sometimes have health problems… I get migraines, well way fewer on a Keto diet, but still. People are really understanding.

  • Wow, Gordon!

    Thanks so much for the testimonial! Yes, I do coach, both writing and life… life coaching has grown out of coaching writers and getting older and who knows what. In fact I’m going to tell the story today of how I came to life coaching. Love synchronicity.

  • Gordon

    The last three months of my life have been the most unproductive period of my sixty-something years. Well certainly the worst of my 15 years as a ‘Ghost Writer’. Nothing seemed to work for me until… wait, I am getting ahead of myself.
    Not writing affects me badly as I now depend on the small income it generates for my retirement. I didn’t select retirement; this particular option was prescribed by a medical condition (diabetic neuropathy) a few years ago. It forced me to re-position my life here behind my desk.
    But as you get older, you too will discover life’s options dwindle, they close-in on you and slowly limit your choices whilst still posting new hurdles in the pathway.
    I am very happy for those happy couples featured on the screen, holding hands on a summer’s day strolling hand-in-hand as soft music plays in the background. Personally I don’t know any of these privileged retired golden-agers. All those that I have met are facing challenges, some old and others new, but all of them capable of disrupting a calm mood and a peaceful mind- even temporarily.
    But you don’t need to be retired. Without peace-of-mind a writer can’t slip into the relaxed dream-state; the one where notes produce scripts. That’s where I need to be to write creatively.
    Disruptive thoughts or jagged emotions interrupt the peaceful thought process and prevent the artist in you from drafting a Mona Lisa.
    We really don’t know each other well enough to truthfully divulge all that’s bothering us or blocking our creativity’; it’s so personal we need to cloak it.
    You must sort out the problems or at least get a grip on them and then plan a fix. Only then will you be able to get your creative juices flowing again. Then write!
    However, there is another solution and I am willing to share it with you. Make contact Anne Wayman, arrange a convenient time for calling her and then talk, she listens. Her life coaching techniques will help you to find your own path. Anne will guide you to the path of a peaceful, creative, mind.
    Hey! I am talking from a wonderful experience.
    Thanks Anne

  • I found this happened to me about a week ago. However, I wasn’t stuck on writing an article. I felt stuck on a particular section. I thought it was the whole article at first so I did a few other things before realising it was one section.

    I solved the problem by writing some of the other sections and when I had done most of the article, I felt able to go back and finish the section I was stuck on.

    I do have days when I simply can’t write or even edit and a day off is needed. Due to some severe chronic health issues I often need a daily nap too. I find that I always communicate with my clients about work I’m doing for them if I have a couple of days when I can’t write. My regulars are always fantastic and I am careful with new clients, adding more time to my TAT, to account for some time off.

  • Excellent way to put it, Cathy. “Typically, it’s abut something else…” And yes, it’s okay to take time off… in fact, it’s a must.

  • I so relate to this, Anne. When I hit that wall, it is rare that it’s about writer’s block. Typically, it’s about something else. Mental fatigue, distractions from another source. My walks help but so does simply giving it up for the day. As a 30-plus corporate career veteran, I still have to remind myself from time to time that it’s okay to take the day off.

  • I think getting enough time off, whatever enough means to you, is necessary. Thanks, Hannah

  • So true, Anne. Walking away even for just five minutes and looking out at the leaves on the trees helps me to reset and pick up speed when I sit back down. Sometimes require sitting down and powering through, but other times you’ve gotta walk away and give your mind a break.

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