Bearing the Block

Writer’s block is a constant struggle for people who have a habit of jumping from idea to idea. Sometimes having too many can be a problem.

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Photo Courtesy of Joseph Grosjean

We've all experienced it, those first moments of a paper when you can't figure out how to start, but what should you do?

Lauren Bander, Columnist

Some say there’s no such thing as writer’s block. They say that you can always move on to something else and that you’ll be able to at least write something. But when you’re clearly devoted to a story for weeks or months and you suddenly move on to something else, you begin to feel lost. (Editor Addy Bennett wrote about a similar feeling here.) I don’t hate my ideas. Just the contrary, actually. I want to get back into them, I just don’t know how.

I’ll admit, I have too many stories and ideas. But what do you expect when you began writing your first chapter book in kindergarten? Yes, that’s an achievement, but what’s the point in flaunting it if you can’t say you’ve finished anything eight years later? I have issues staying devoted to an idea, no matter how much I love it. I either just suddenly start a new story or pause one day and never feel any motivation to get back on it. It’s always there in the back of my mind, but when I begin to start again, I can never think of where to continue.

I have the main plot points picked out. I know (more or less) what’s going to happen throughout the book–the beginning, some deeply emotional moments in the middle, and the end. But it’s getting to the middle and the end that’s the issue. It’s the transitional period that’s difficult, where you have to be both entertaining and purposeful. You also have to keep in mind your goal and what you want your readers to feel. Not to mention flow. All of these things piled up on each other make something you love to do stressful, and sometimes your creativity just shuts down.

I was most of the way through a book I started a year ago and, honestly, it wasn’t very good. It was cliché and choppy and inconsistent, but I was proud of it because I thought I was going to finish it. However, when I got stuck, I began rereading my work and realized just how bad it was. I still love the story and overall idea, but I haven’t been in the mood to rewrite or finish it. I haven’t been in the mood for five months. I’d become such a better writer in just seven months, so I figured, why don’t I start something better?

So I did. And that didn’t work out. So I started another book. That one is beginning to fall through, too.

I haven’t totally stopped writing creatively. I’m currently writing a book with another person, but my coauthor is mostly in control. It was her story first. We’re a decent way through this book, even if we’ve slowed down since it was started. (Luckily, we’re not as unmotivated as I am with my other books.) But I can’t help but think, do I really want my first finished book to be one I co-wrote? It will probably end up that way as I am not stopping my interaction with this book anytime soon, but I wish I could say I wrote one independently first.

I disagree with the statement “Writer’s block doesn’t exist.” Maybe a writer will have other ideas and can write about them, but writer’s block for a single idea is certainly a thing. It’s a thing that I, and all writers like myself, have to overcome, even if it takes longer than we’d like.