I’ve been writing professionally for 12 years. While I am nowhere near what you might even begin to consider wealthy, I have been able to eke out a modest middle class living that has been reasonably consistent. Unlike pure novelists or people who might write for traditional magazines, the overwhelming majority of my work resides on the Internet. I’ve been writing and publishing daily, in effect, this whole time. And I’ve never experienced writer’s block.
Well, that’s not completely true.
Let’s take a couple steps back.
Living Tissue Over a Metal Endoskeleton
At one point in my career, I was writing upwards of 20 blog post (or more!) each and every day. These blog posts were decidedly short at about 300 words or less, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I was something of a content creating machine. That’s how I made my livelihood at the time (and it’s not really something I want to do again).
Writer’s block was not an option. If I didn’t keep up with this kind of pace and volume, I wouldn’t have earned what I earned… and the client could have just as easily moved on other freelancers who could keep up with that kind of daily demand. And this was all on top of trying to pursue other opportunities and keep up with this blog. That’s why I felt compelled to discuss how to beat writer’s block over a decade ago.
My job, by its very definition, required me to write quickly, effectively and consistently. Like a machine, it was all about efficiency and so much less about the artistry of it all.
Creativity Well Springs Eternal?
But producing more original, more compelling content requires more creativity. It requires more conscious thought and effort, rather than simply going through the robotic motions of putting words on the page.
It is through this kind of framework that we arrive at the notion of “writer’s block” in the first place. It literally describes something that is “blocking” you from the creative process, from producing your next great work. If you can get past this block, like leaping over an obstacle in your way, you can literally get back on track. Right?
Ehhhh… not exactly.
The Default Status
The very myth of writer’s block assumes that creative output is the default status and the impedance of this process is the exception. The truth is precisely the opposite. Glimmers of inspiration are the exception, not the rule. When I sit down in front of my computer, even if I’ve got dozens of ideas floating between my ears and I’m feeling especially motivated to get it done, the actual writing process can still be a challenge.
As a result, all creative people (myself included) have to figure out how to meet our muses halfway. That is, whenever they choose to visit. Just write, even if it’s bad. Just write. Write because you must. By getting in this practice and by having the discipline to just do it, you’ll learn how to get into a groove and let the rest of the world melt away.
Chip away at that unformed mass, little by little, and discard the junk. If you’re lucky, you might just reveal a masterpiece. If you’re not, at least you made something and done is better than perfect. This is one of the biggest reasons why I prefer to write it all in one go; if I get into a flow, I need to take advantage of it and milk it for all it’s worth.
After all, fortune favors those who are willing to work for it. Forget about writer’s block. Just keep carving.