As many writers before me, and probably many after, I’ve experienced the frustration and stagnation of writer’s block. In my case, this usually isn’t a case of staring at the proverbial blank page trying to get literary blood from a dry stone, but a question of whether or not I’m going to get to the blasted keyboard at all. My form of writer’s block seems to be getting to the work, not the inability to do the work once I get there.
This “block,” or whatever you want to call it, probably comes from the same internal sources as the blank page syndrome—but however you slice it, writer’s block is writer’s block, and the end result is always the same. A blank page. However, dear writers, there might be a remedy, if not an outright cure. It’s called writing! As a professional writer having to deliver content on deadline, whether it be for a direct client or a ghostwriting service, I’ve had to establish a work ethic and a discipline that has helped in conquering my writer’s block.
In my experience, writing begets writing. For me, writing is a mindset, an attitude, a lifestyle, a schedule, a commitment… all in one. Establishing a “regularity” of writing in order to survive and thrive in the marketplace has gotten me to that keyboard, day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year.
I’m not saying that my writer’s block has gone away completely. I think writer’s block comes with the territory, even for the best of us. But by working as a freelance writer, and having to deliver on pitches and assignments, meet deadlines, and be creatively and professionally productive, I have been able to parlay that discipline into killing the “blank page” when it comes to writing my more personal pet projects on spec.
And you can do the same. Short stories. Novels. Screenplays. As we all know, many of these are written on spec by writers who have to answer only to themselves. And that, need I remind you, is where our dreaded friend writer’s block comes in. But when you’re already working on that contracted blog, article, web copy, et al, you are already in the arena! What do they say? That half of success is just showing up? Well, you’ve shown up. You’re at the keyboard…writing! When you finish that paid freelance gig, all it takes is a simple shift of your gears to start working on your pet spec project!
Now, you might say that your problem isn’t getting to the keyboard, it’s filling that page when you get there. But I remind you… writing begets writing. Try it. After banging out an assignment, shift to your novel, or screenplay, or whatever. Since you’re already in writing mode, chances are better than good that something will come. And something is better than nothing. It beats a blank page. And then you’re off and running.
Michael V is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.