Why Struggling to Write Doesn’t Mean You’re Not A ‘Writer’?
Why Struggling to Write ?
All writers know this story.
You think of yourself as a writer. You particularly enjoy answering the “What do you do?” question, grinning from ear to ear as you mention what you do. You are an artist with a love for words and you enjoy putting sentences together to create great art. It’s not something you do. It’s just who you are.
Then one day, you get an article topic. “This seems easy”, You think to yourself. You put on your favorite pajamas and get to your keyboard. You’ve written many articles before and you have a good feeling this one is going to be a walk in the park.
But then, something unexpected happens.
You type in the article topic and all of a sudden, you just cannot seem to figure out how to start the it. You take a walk, listen to music, run errands and watch a movie. Then you come back to your article and still cannot find the right words to put down so you postpone it. You tell yourself, “I’ll write it when I get inspiration”.
Fast-forward to a couple weeks, or months later. The article still isn’t done and you’re beginning to think maybe you aren’t just “cut out’’ for writing. Maybe you’re not really a “writer”.
Here’s the thing – every “writer” has faced difficulty writing on many occasions.
From famous names like J.K. Rowling to Stephen King to your average professional bloggers and journalists, everyone who has ever written anything has faced this struggle.
Thankfully, the Merriam-Webster’s Learners’ Dictionary defines a “writer” as “one who writes’’; not one who struggles with writing. Struggling with writing doesn’t mean that you’re not a writer. Why? The answer is simple – a writer is one who writes, not someone who struggles with writing.
If you have ever written anything before, you are a writer. End of story. You only have to be able to go through the struggle and write nevertheless. How do you do that? How do you go from facing that blank screen to having words magically flow from your mind through your fingers and fill up page after page? How do you conquer “writer’s block”?
Here’s a bit of good news. The best thing about learning to conquer “writer’s block” is this- There is nothing to conquer. Yes, you read that right. There is nothing to conquer because “writer’s block” doesn’t exist!
While this may not seem politically correct, it is true. The term “writer’s block” comes from an inability to correctly identify the reason why you are stuck, not knowing what next to write or where to take the story from where it is to where you want it to be.
The first step to beating “writer’s block” is to realize it does not actually exist and that it is only a symptom of an underlying problem.
Next, you have to identify the problem. In most cases, the problem results from a sudden drought of ideas- you don’t know where to start, or you may not know how to connect one chapter to the next or you don’t know how to introduce this or that character and as a result, you feel like you may have dug yourself into a hole and can’t seem to claw your way out.
Here’s what you do. Like someone once said, “If you find you have dug yourself into a hole, stop digging”, the first thing you want to do is stop. Stop worrying about how to get from point A to B, stop worrying about how to introduce a new character or turn of events, or worrying about the deadline for the article submission. Just stop. Momentarily.
Different writers usually have different approaches they take when they get to this point. Whichever approach you choose, the important thing is to never stop writing.
One approach to deal with this is to take a different topic (preferably something you love to write/read about), and just write. If you can’t come up with anything to write, write about how you feel in that moment. Write about things that bother you. Don’t hold back. Forget about perfection. Free yourself of any need to check your grammar, punctuation or spelling. Just write. The best ways to get through a blockage are either breaking through or climbing over it. Inevitably, this will knock an idea loose. You may find you get ideas for the article you were working on while you’re writing about something entirely different.
Another method you could also try is to take a break and go do something else for a while. Take a walk, go see a concert, meet with friends and have a laugh. Sometimes, the best ideas come when you’re out doing other things. Write these ideas down somewhere you won’t lose them and refer to them when you’re ready to write.
If there’s an idea you had initially planned to use in your writing to get from point A to point B that you can’t quite figure out how to use, don’t be afraid to shelf it. Refer back to it in 6 months, in a year, in 2 years and you would have had new experiences and skills. You might just find that you now have a way to use the idea.
Every great writer has struggled with writing at some point or the other (and probably still do). The beauty of great writing is not the final product; but the journey from the first page through the difficulty and “writer’s block” to the last page. Struggling with writing is not sufficient criteria to disqualify you from being a writer. All you need to remember is this- A “writer” is one who writes. That’s all the criteria you’ll ever need.