What is the best method for overcoming writer's block as I write my first novel?

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Answered by: Glenn, An Expert in the Writer's Block Category
Ernest Hemingway once said, "Writing is easy. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

While I do not subscribe to the bleeding theory, I admit that there are times for some writers when the creative juices cease flowing and their eyes gaze wantonly and vacantly at the screen devoid of even the first idea or word to commit to their project. When it happens, it can be frightening. In fact, it's even happened to me...imagine that.

It is an alarming phenomenon, especially if you rely on words for your livelihood. It can paralyze a writer, turning her or him into a terrified, catatonic zombie. Understanding that fear is the key to overcoming Writer's Block.

Writer's Block is frequently triggered by our feelings of inadequacy...or in other words...our fears. They come in many forms. Self-doubt about our ability to actually write may be, perhaps, the primary fear. Add to that, fear of rejection, fear of exposing your innermost feelings, fear of criticism, fear of having people laugh at you...and the list goes on.

As a writer, you must understand that these fears are normal. Without them, your passion and commitment to your work would be suspect. Without them, your writing would lack the fire that is within you.

Overcoming Writer's Block requires you to overcome your fear. It really is a simple process and once you master it, Writer's Block will become a thing of the past. So how do you do it...overcome your fear?

Simple really...you write!

I know what you are thinking. That's not fair! Writing is the problem! If I could write, I wouldn't have Writer's Block. Go peddle your advice elsewhere while I sit here and tremble in front of my keyboard.

Take a deep breath and calm yourself. Tremble if you must, but type a word...then type another. Keep typing words until you string them together into a sentence. Once you have a sentence, string more words together until you have another sentence and then a paragraph.

You may come to the end of your paragraph and think to yourself, My God, that is the worst thing I have ever written...and it might be. It might be terrible, but you will have written...something.

That’s it! You have engaged in the process of writing. If you have to edit it later, or even delete it, so be it. You will have broken the logjam and the words will begin to flow. If you want to write, face the fear in you, put your hand on the keyboard and write something...anything.

Perhaps, you are thinking, this is too simple. Glenn has no idea what I am going through. I have been sitting for hours...days even...before my keyboard searching for the right words, painfully trying to dig them from my soul, and they just won't come. Hogwash! (or an expletive of your choice)

Too many writers are filled with the mysteries of writing...the mystical high calling...the spirituality of writing. I repeat...Hogwash.

You may be inspired to write...you may want to write...it may be your passion to write, but in the end, writing is a skill. If you choose writing as your profession then master the skills, overcome the fears and take the mystery out of it.

The truth is, I do know what you are experiencing. As the cliché goes...been there, done that...and I know it is painful. So before you try my basic method...before you write that one word...do this.

Write down one fear that you have as a writer, even if you feel that it has no bearing on your Writer's Block issues.

Did you do it? Now write down another possible fear. It could be anything - I won't have enough money to pay the mortgage if I don't write something really good - or That reviewer is going to tear me up and devour me if this manuscript goes public - or what in the hell makes me think I can write, anyway...I'm an idiot.

Whatever they are, write down your fears. Make a list. When you are done, read them through carefully...once.

Now throw them the hell away. Go back to step one and write a word, and then another and so on.

In the end, you have a choice. Succumb to the immobilizing panic that is Writer's Block, or face your fears. If you do face them, throw them away and plunge ahead, I promise you will rediscover the joy and passion of writing that drew you to the profession of words in the first place.

You are a writer. Write!

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