Part of the reason why I took down my previous website, which had hundreds of thousands of readers, is because I suffered terrible writer’s block. Fortunately, this appears to be over.
I went from twenty thousand plus words a month to virtually zero in a short space of time. Trying to break this writing block has been an interesting experience for me. It has made me realize that sometimes life is not about efficiency, it’s simply about living, and that time often solves problems by itself.
Today’s essay is about how I found my own cure for writer’s block.
Perhaps I needed time to live, and that’s why I have not been writing. I definitely have had the time to write, right now I work half days, and I earn decent money, so there is no reason why I shouldn’t spend time writing, but it just hasn’t felt right.
Trusting that gut feeling is also a lesson worth learning. Learning not to force things that don’t feel natural is another.
I think it is easy to miss the lessons that life teaches us when the mistakes are not so obvious and glaring, but the amazing thing in life is that there is no bad result, only experimentation.
So, if like me, you’ve had writer’s block. Well, that is a result.
You’ve learned that under your current conditions you are not able to write. You can apply this to everything.
Life is one grand experiment. There are no right or wrong choices, just results. That’s why I urge to to “just do it”. Try it out, whatever it is, and see what happens. Learn from failures, learn from experiments, and even learn when nothing seems to be happening.
Remember, no result is a result.
Habits are hard to break, and everything in life is a habit.
Yes, not taking drugs is a habit. Not doing is as much a habit as doing.
So my hope now is to be able to return to my old ways and have new, quality original content posted on a regular schedule. I probably won’t go back to two 2,500-word essays a week like before, but I will try and build up to it.
It has been quite motivating building and launching a new site, and seeing plenty of traffic even in its first week, so I think that will help me continue to develop it.
Now, what are some tactics for breaking writer’s block?
If You Can’t Write, Think.
Just to be clear, you should always be thinking! It shouldn’t be something that you turn on and off.
So when you’re thinking, just think about the amazing things you want to write about in the future. Create lists of titles, ideas, quotes, opinions, topics, and little drafts that will inspire you in the future, when you’ve got over your writer’s block.
I’ve ended up with 143 draft essays in this period which I have hardly published. All in all, that probably amounts to tens of thousands of words. Most of it probably dribbles, but that’s not important, it means that I now have a huge amount of material to start working on.
Read All Your Old Work
I re-read all the essays I had previously – that’s over 300,000 words of content.
This has a dual fold purpose:
Firstly, it allowed me to check the quality of all my previous work, and slightly modify some aspects of some essays. Mostly it was changing sentences due to bad grammar and/or typos. Occasionally there was also a logical hole in an argument that needed to be fixed.
Secondly, I began to slowly get ideas about what to write next, or follow up essays based on previous essays. There were also a few series of essays that I have yet to finish.
Also, it was actually quite enjoyable, it made me realize where I am at, and how I have changed since I started writing.
Read Other People’s Work
It’s always inspiring to see the amazing work of other people, and I think it is a great way to rekindle the love of writing.
I’m going to eventually publish a list of websites and books that I read and enjoy.
And anyway, reading is something you should be doing on a daily basis as part of your self-education.
Get Excited Again
It’s difficult to continue writing once you stop, especially when running a website, because one’s traffic may well dip due to the lack of fresh content, and when you feel that you’re on a downwards slide.
The trick is to think about the cool things one will learn in the future by writing and the opportunities that will arise from that.
If writing has changed my life so dramatically in eighteen months, what could it do in the next ten years?
Don’t be in a rush to cure your writer’s block, it took me months.
Instead of trying to immediately get back to my old schedule, I just wrote the occasional essay, with no pressure to try and write a minimum amount of words or to publish on a certain date.
Every essay that I published during this period helped me regain my writing confidence, and now I finally feel that I can start writing regularly again.
Remember, during your writer’s block keep the content you create short if needed, and keep it simple.
Embrace the Block!
One of the core principles of Stoicism is that we should accept things exactly the way they happen. Nothing is bad unless you think it is.
Nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
So learn to embrace the fact that you’ve got writer’s block because it might be the best thing that has ever happened to you.
While I’ve not done much writing in the last few months, I have managed to finish some large projects related to work and also set up a new business that already looks very promising.
So if you find yourself completely stuck and you can’t write, my advice is to embrace the block and concentrate on doing other things in the meantime.
Having writer’s block is something that will happen to everyone who writes regularly. It’s a completely natural part of a writer’s life, and the less you worry about it, the faster it will go.