How to Overcome Writer’s Block — Gamblers Edition
Let’s try our luck with this analogy
The blank screen, the ceaseless text cursor blinking non-stop on it, reminding us of our uselessness, the rolling eyes, as if we were trying to look directly into our brain to find anything to write about, the deep breaths, the frustration taking control of our mind and body… it happens, we’ve all been through it, even if only for brief moments.
Writer’s block, this “condition” that strikes writers every once in a while, is actually less of a condition and more of a mindset.
I don’t believe in it, at least not in its classical definition, where a suffering writer languishes while clamoring for his muse.
Writing has more to do with the process than with inspiration.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it’s true:
Perspiration beats inspiration.
Your hard work (where “intensity” can vary depending on your level of commitment) will bring the results you aspire.
So when a person claims her inspiration is gone, that she can no longer get into the zone as she used to, in reality, she’s just letting the wrong mindset take control of her.
If you can think, and you know how to write — like, literally — then you really can’t pull the “writer’s block” card because writing is nothing more than materializing (even if digitally) your thoughts.
So, if writer’s block isn’t really a thing, how do I get back to writing whenever I’m stuck?
I’m glad you ask! That way I can try to combine two things that I really like: Writing and Gambling.
Well, as many other writers would agree, you can work around the so-called “writer’s block” by purely and simply write!
You can’t just sit and wait for “inspiration” or to get in “flow-mode” because it just doesn’t work that way.
How can you expect something if you don’t position yourself in place to receive it?
To write good stuff you need to write. It doesn’t matter if it is good or bad or stupid, you just need to write and keep writing until something useful comes out.
Entering the analogy
Think of yourself as a creative slot machine!
Like with any regular slot machine, you need to pull that lever a lot of times to get some tiny prize!
That’s the same with writing, you need to write a lot to get something OK-ish.
If you keep playing, every once in a while you will actually get a good prize that compensates all the investment you’ve made before.
When you keep writing, you will improve and eventually you’ll create something really good that will give you comfort for all the times you failed and renews your strengths to keep doing it.
And then, after thousands of plays, a few fortunate players get one lucky turn that can really change the course of their lives. They hit the Jackpot!
This, in our little gambling analogy, means that someone was able to create something so emotional, so marking, so beautiful, that can really be called a first-class writing piece.
Not everyone is lucky (i.e. talented) enough to win a jackpot, but don’t feel bad, for the rest of us the chances to score a big prize is still very acceptable, as long as we keep playing the game.
So, that’s it, show up every day, do the work, never stop writing for the single reason that you think you have nothing to write about. Write about that if you must, or about your cat or about someone you love.
If even that doesn’t do the trick, I have one last tactic that had never failed on me:
Answer someone’s question!
When I really can’t think of anything to write about, I just look on Quora or someplace alike and just start zapping through some questions that people ask until I find one that sparkles my interest and desire to answer.
This takes from you the pressure and mental effort of thinking about a topic to write and makes it much more easy to get the cogs spinning, and before you notice, you helped someone with your writing and got yourself an 800 words story to publish on your blog!
This just happened with this post (you can count them!).
It’s not a jackpot, but it was fun to write and kept me working on my writing, and that’s what writers do.
I can’t promise you’ll hit a jackpot, and I can’t tell you how long it will take for you to get a good prize, but I’m confident that if you do the work, if you keep pulling that lever, you will leave this casino that we call life as a big winner.