I have been neglecting my blog. I admit this. It’s no excuse, but between a million writerly things, a full-time job and all the other things that constitutes one’s life something has to go and in my case, it’s been this little corner that has slipped through the cracks. It has to be said though that I did – once or twice – sit in front of the blank box to write something amazing and inspiring and then… nothing. Ever had that? That awful, bleak moment when the words just don’t come. It’s usually followed by a sinking feeling of panic. The dreaded writers block.
Now writers block is a contentious issue. Some dismiss it out of hand as being a fallacy. Some writers are crippled by it. The fact remains that most writers suffer from it at some point or another – whether it’s the dreaded blank screen or somewhere in the middle if a body of work when all words and sentences disappear into gossamer mist. Admittedly, when time is in short supply and deadlines are tight, there is less opportunity to develop the block, but it still happens.
Writers block, as far as I can tell, springs forth from fear and lack of confidence. It’s when the inner editor or critic takes over. The writer starts to believe that all they can write is drivel and that all ideas a rubbish. This in turn sparks off anxiety and fear, which in turn amplifies the feelings of anxiety. It turns into a vicious circle that spirals until the writer falls to pieces for a little while.
There are many sources of advice and exercises one can do to beat the dreaded block. Many writers recommend going for a walk. Reading. Do research for ideas. Do freewriting exercises. Attend a writing class. Speak to a friend or fellow writer. The list in endless. But the best advice I’ve been given on this point is really quite simple: Be kind to yourself. It’s the only way you are going to silence the inner editor and critic that created the block in the first place. Take a moment and give yourself some space. Sometimes procrastination is the mind’s way of processing the problem.
Today I set aside specifically so I could spend it writing. Instead, I bushed my cats, picked leaves off my tomato plants, spent about 20 minutes studying the patch of ground in my garden where I planted some carrot seeds for any sign of life, had a really long nap, watched about 4 episodes of the King of Queens, baked a banana loaf, scrubbed my kitchen, did the laundry, brushed my cats again, spent ages faffing about on Twitter and Facebook and I’ve written about 35 words and this blog post in total.
So there you go. Confession out.
I suppose sometimes you just have to be kind to yourself and try again tomorrow.