Guest Post #1: How to Deal with Writer’s Block [Fear]
This is probably one of the most popular questions an author receives, and I’m happy to share my insights about writer’s block in hopes that more aspiring writers will know the truth, which is that writer’s block does not exist.
What we refer to as ‘writer’s block’ is instead typically one of three things: fear, resistance, or lack of planning. In this guest post, I want to especially address fear because I believe it’s something that every writer faces, but it’s also something every writer can overcome.
Writing is like translating your secrets into written words, secrets that up until that point have only existed as precious thoughts within your soul. As such, this story you’re aching to share is dear to you, and chances are you’ve envisioned the final draft of your words in every form imaginable countless times.
Then you sit at your computer and start to type, and the words you string together are nothing like the magnum opus you’ve dreamed of. Far from it, in fact.
So fear sets in.
You fear that what you create will fall leagues below the expectations you’ve set in your mind. You fear that you’re too inexperienced to tell the story in a masterful way. You fear that you’re incapable of crafting it so that it’s nothing short of brilliant. You fear that you’re not good enough to be the storyteller. You fear what people will say, what people won’t say, and what either scenario says about the value of your contribution to the world.
Take a look at this quote:
“Stop here for a few breaths and think about this because it is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance in life. Every time I have set out to translate the book (or story, or hopelessly long essay) that exists in such brilliant detail on the big screen of my limbic system onto a piece of paper…I grieve for my own lack of talent and intelligence. Every. Single. Time. Were I smarter, more gifted, I could pin down a closer facsimile of the wonders I see. I believe that, more than anything else, this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself."
—Ann Patchett, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
Do you need to forgive yourself?
The secret is: everyone feels this way! When it comes to writing, sharing your message, and baring your soul for all the world to see, we’re all scared out of our minds. But my belief is this: if you’ve been given a message or story that’s burning in your heart, a story you know people need to hear, then you have an obligation to share it with as many people as possible.
It doesn’t matter how small you feel, how inadequate you feel, how incapable you feel, etc…people are depending on you to courageously step forth and shine your light and touch their hearts with your story. And to them, it doesn’t matter whether you sound like a J.K. Rowling, a John Green, a Suzanne Collins, or any of the present greats—they just want to feel something as a result of reading your words.
So the next time fear creeps in and your courage has its tail between its legs, remind yourself of this: This is my story to share, and I have everything I need to tell it in the way that only I can tell it.
At the heart of everything that you’ve ever read that moved you, touched you, changed your life, there was a writer’s fear. And a writer’s determination to say what he had to say in spite of that fear.