(And Yet More) Beating Writer’s Block

Writer’s block can be summed up in two statements:

  1. Being afraid to write because we think it sucks, and
  2. Not knowing what to write next.

Let me address these for you in order.

Problem #1: Your Taste is Good, and That’s Why You Hate Your Writing

Here is a video. This is an excellent video.

Yes, you need to watch this video.

Really. You need to watch.

One-Sentence Summary of the Video You May Or May Not Have Watched:

You have good taste, which means nothing you create will initially satisfy you. THIS IS NORMAL.

And that’s okay. That is SO okay.

I don’t teach writing. I teach patience. Toughness. Stubbornness. The willingness to fail. I teach the life. When you feel global doubt about your talent, that is your talent. People who have no talent don’t have any doubt.
– Richard Bausch

Solution: Be Willing to Suck

First drafts suck. First drafts ALWAYS Suck.

Maureen Johnson says it best (with fun noises, too).

One-Sentence Summary of the Video You May Or May Not Have Watched:

First drafts suck, and thinking it sucks is not only normal – it’s healthy.

This advice comes from a woman with (at the time of this post) something like eighteen books and awards out the wazoo. Give yourself permission to suck. If you don’t, you will never get better.If you do give yourself permission to suck, you will inevitably get better because that’s how human beings learn. You didn’t start out brushing your teeth like a champ, either.

Neil Gaiman puts it this way.

For me, it’s always been a process of trying to convince myself that what I’m doing in a first draft isn’t important.

One way you get through the wall is by convincing yourself that it doesn’t matter. No one is ever going to see your first draft. Nobody cares about your first draft. And that’s the thing that you may be agonizing over, but honestly, whatever you’re doing can be fixed. For now, just get the words out. Get the story down however you can get it down, then fix it.

Get the story down however you can get it down, then fix it. – Neil Gaiman Click To Tweet

The Cure for Writer’s Block

Write the next word. You don’t have to  know how chapter three connects to chapter sixty-two. You don’t have to write perfection. In fact, it can be terrible – but you still need to write the next word. Then the next. Then the next.

Yes, I know, that’s the problem: how can you write when you can’t write? Well, you may not know the end of the story, or the end of the chapter, or even the end of the scene.

You can still write the next word. Even if it’s the wrong word, you can write it. And after that?

Write the next word after that. Even if that word is all wrong.

Let these words encourage you.

I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts.

– Anne Lamott

First. Second draft is just fixing stuff. Fixing stuff is easy. Fixing stuff is fun. First draft it’s you and a blank sheet of paper. There’s nothing to fix yet, there’s just words that aren’t there yet, and there are characters sitting opposite each other at a table not saying them.

-Neil Gaiman

And if Gaiman doesn’t understand writing, no one does.


You are a writer if you write (NOT if you’re published). Tell yourself this. It does not matter how  long it’s been since you wrote last.

WRITE. It doesn't have to be good. It just has to BE. Click To Tweet

Keep going. Don’t give up hope. You can do this.

It’ll all be worth it in the end.

And if the victory didn’t occur this time, it might happen the next time. If it doesn’t happen the next time, it would be later on. The worst is not to fall, it is to stay a prisoner to the ground.

– Paulo Coelho

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