I feel like absolute garbage today thanks to my ongoing cold that has decided to make my nose all stuffy. Therefore I wanted something easy to write about. Also, my tags aren’t click bait, I’ve linked my recently completed RWBY fan fiction at the bottom of the page for those who want to read it.
Now, onto the reason for this post; writers block…
To put it simply, “writer’s block” is the inability to put a thought into its written form. Make no mistake about it. Writing is a craft, and it isn’t always easy. These are some of the ways I stave off writers block. They help me, hopefully they help you too.
Before we begin, a disclaimer needs to be said.
This is aimed at the writers who do so for the fun of it. Writers who love to just write. This isn’t advice aimed at creative writers who earn a living through the power of the pen and their own ambitions, though you may find some value in this post as well.
If you are a professional writer just know that number three on this list certainly won’t apply to you. It wasn’t written to apply to a career writer, and isn’t aimed at a person who does this for a living.
With that’s said, let’s begin.
#1) Respect your mental health.
I’m not kidding. This really is important. You should know where your mind is when you sit down to write a new chapter in a fan fiction, or begin your own novel. More often than not it matters beyond belief. Your emotions will fuel your writing from a creative standpoint. That is indisputable. You cannot completely remove yourself from your own written word.
Why do you write? That’s the first question you should know the answer to when figuring this out. Even if all you have to say is “I like it”, at least have that. Have something.
Anything. Any reason. Just so long as its your reason to write.
For example, some writers take to the practice so that they can vent their emotions in a safe way. Other tend to explore different parts of the human condition insofar as it applies to themselves. Others write based strictly on where their mood takes them.
A very lucky few may not have their writing changed at all by their head space. Anecdotally speaking though, I find this to be rare. Particularly in those who are not professionally inclined.
No matter your content or your style, ultimately the first key to solving writers block is to understand where your head is creatively. How does that mood impact you? That is without a doubt something you should discover and explore.
If you’re in a bad head space, it may reflect in your writing in ways you don’t want it to. If you’re in a general bad mood, it could be difficult to write a happy-go-lucky scene. If you’re in a really good mood, you may find that writing something sad or heavy just isn’t going to work at that moment.
Work with you mind creatively, not against it.
In cases where you mood just doesn’t fit the content, it may be best to begin a small side project. Use that idea to explore your capabilities as a writer, even if very little comes from it. Don’t start frustrating yourself by trying to cram the idea into a work already in progress. Especially if that idea simply doesn’t fit to begin with.
In other cases, it may just be best not to write at all for that moment. Instead, take some time to put yourself into best frame of mind for your personal goals. As a writer, it’s always important to be aware of yourself, even if you just do this for fun.
#2) Redefine your methods.
Let’s say you’ve been writing for a long time, perhaps years. Let’s also assume this is the first real rut you’ve ever been in as a writer. Lastly, let’s assume it seems to be a bad one this time.
What do you do?
You begin by looking at your creative work. Is it bringing you the emotional fulfillment you need? If not, cram that thing on the back burner and begin a new project entirely. Try a different topic to invigorate your passion for writing.
If it’s not the creative work itself that brings you discomfort, perhaps the problem can be blamed on your workspace. Does it suit you creatively at the time?
If not, fix that. No, really I mean it. Fix that as soon as you can. Sometimes it really is that stupidly simple.
People always harp on clean writing spaces, but I get the worst writer’s block when my area is too clean. I’m actually writing this post in my garage next to my space heater. No, I’m not joking, this has become a thing…
Normally I write blogs at my computer desk. However, I just recently cleaned my desk thoroughly, not a spec of dust remains. It smells of wood polish. I do that about once a month because I’m not a complete slob, but this is the downside. I just can’t write there at the moment.
My computer room is just too neat for me right now, and that’s just the way it is. In a day or two the general clutter of daily life will have sorted that out. Until then I’m sitting in a place more conducive to my own personal creativity.
I like to write in conditions that are casual, comfortable and lived in. My garage isn’t ideal, either. It’s the middle of winter. Snow is littered all over the ground outside at the moment, and I can see my breath. Still, it was the need to get out of my “too clean” location that inspired this entire ramble of a blog post.
Yes, this time the cure for my writers block really was that simple. Is it the best I can do when I’m at the peek of my writing? Most certainly not, but that brings me to my next point…
#3) Perfectionism is flat out stupid.
Spelling errors? Yep me too, we all have them. Words repeating themselves over and over and over again? That’s a thing. Run on sentences? Sure!
Does it really matter in the moment? That’s up to you. Don’t make a huge deal out of it, though.
To prove my point, i’m putting my feet to the fire on this one. I’m not even going to edit this stupid thing. It’s what I like to call a “write and toss”. Anyone who reads my fan fiction knows I make the habit of just enjoying the creative process because it’s the part I like best.
Hence the writing, and the tossing, and the no editing…and my god we have a lot of “and’s in and grammatical hullabaloo this sentence now down’t we? Yes, I’m aware I misspelled at least one word in this paragraph. Do I look like I care?
Nope don’t care! There it is, welcome to my lack of caring…
No, seriously though, to me creativity is the fun part of writing, and fan fiction to me stands out as a hobby only. I don’t get paid for fan fiction. That’s both a legal and moral grey area I won’t get into on this blog post but the point stands.
For most of us, creatively writing pieces of art won’t be a job. For those of us who use certain written media as an outlet, it might not ever be one. If earning a paycheck through writing isn’t your goal, don’t strive for perfection.
Is there a place and time for carefully edited works? Most certainly. Does it need to be every single tiny thing you write? Absolutely not.
Professionals spend years honing their craft to reach the standard of “Best seller” or other critical acclaims. Sometimes it’s just raw skill. Sometimes that raw skill mixed with pure luck. Sometimes it’s a fluke that their hard work was a best seller at all. Right time, right place, all that jazz.
Do not listen to every person out there who demands your creative process needs to be a certain way. It doesn’t to fit their mold. The only standard of quality your writing needs to fit is your own.
You can clean up and revisit your old works when you feel ready to do that. If you don’t feel like doing that, well, just don’t. Edit and revise at your own pace, but never to the point that you burn yourself out.
If you write only for the fun of it, then just have your fun. Let yourself love it, and don’t let the need for perfectionism get in the way.
I feel like I can’t say that enough, because there are a lot of mean spirited people that bully new writers and discourage them. Writing isn’t meant to be torture, and if it’s turning out to be that way due to editing, lighten up on yourself and your creative process. Don’t let yourself feel like you’re losing control of your vision.
No one likes to feel that way. Writers hate losing their creative voice. Even the best writer out there wouldn’t want to lose what makes their writing special to them. Don’t allow yours to be stifled.
Welcome to an incredibly casual blog post that’s finally reached its end. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world. Just a wall of text really. Still, I know someone will read this thing to its conclusion and take some value from it. So long as just one person does, then that’s good enough for me.
If that wasn’t you, sorry. You’re probably just in a different place as a writer than the people I’m addressing. Maybe you’re way more advanced, or perhaps you’ve never experienced a writer’s block like the one I’m talking about. Perhaps you simply see the world differently that I do. Either way, I wish you well on your writing adventures.
So, the best advice I can give you is right here. Down at the bottom, for those who truly do love this medium. This final piece of advice is just for you.
Just… love it.
Love your writing, love yourself as a writer, and love the journey it takes you on as a person. Learn to love this writers block and what it can teach you about the craft. Let it inspire you. Let yourself discover this side of your creative mind.
If you can do that, you’ll overcome any writers block eventually. It might take some time, and it might be annoying, but inspiration comes from strange places. Embrace that, and embrace your ambition to write.
As for critics who have a bad side?
If you do decide to share written works for the world, just decide if you care about the criticism you receive. You can take it or leave it. The choice really is yours. If the criticism comes up a lot, it might be worth thinking about. In the end though, it all comes down to your goals as a writer.
When it comes to fan fiction, I certainly don’t care about any tiny nitpick that crosses my path. It’s not a job, it’s a hobby. The phrase “Don’t like? Don’t read…” may be hyperbolic, but there’s a lot of truth in it too.
I live by that truth, because in the end I’m selfish when it comes to my creative writing. It’s not meant for everyone else, it’s meant for me. If I share it, that’s on my terms. It’s not for anyone else to decide.
This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets… or as you may know me on the AO3, AYangThang. I recently finished a write and toss type of fan fiction in the RWBY community. If you want, you can read it here.
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