Friday Speak Out!: Beat Writer's Block!

Friday, May 13, 2016
by Allie Long

How do you confront what is stopping you from just sitting down and writing? Hopefully this list of the reasons will help combat writer’s block and tap into your inner ability to "just do it."

1. Perfectionism: It's easy to think your writing will never be as great as your favorite writers’. The blood, sweat, and tears are absent from the glossy book covers and lists of awards, but just because you don't see them doesn't mean they didn't happen. Write now, edit later. You'd be surprised the amount of material you can come up with just be writing a stream-of-consciousness about your day. The only way to access a diamond is to weed through the rough and find something worth polishing.

2. Feeling uninspired: This is probably the biggest problem I have when writing. It can make a person question his or her entire identity as a writer, but the solution to this problem is right under our noses. Writing is solitary, no doubt, but too much isolation can leave a writer severely lacking in the ideas department. Our commitment to our work can be self-sabotaging if it leads to neglecting our lives outside of writing. Take a couple days to just live, and you'll be surprised at just how quickly you are ready to write again.

3. You aren't reading enough: Time to go back to the drawing board. The books you read are a vital part of your writer's toolbox. The more tools you have at your disposal, the more problems you'll be able to solve and things you'll be able to build. I don't believe in over-studying or over-rehearsing, and I certainly don't believe in over-reading.

4. Fear of failure: Maybe you're scared of criticism, maybe you're horrified at the thought of rejection, or maybe you've already written something great and you're worried you'll never top it. Self-expression will not always please everyone around us, but you'd be surprised how much openness and vulnerability are appreciated. Maybe you will even inspire others to overcome their fear of failure in the process, and that's worth just as much as writing something spectacular.

5. Too many distractions: Facebook, Twitter, just one more Netflix show. We've all been there. Commit time during the day to writing and enjoy your favorite TV shows at night. If you don't take your work seriously, nobody else will. You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish, and it will make your relaxation time that much sweeter.

6. You don't really want to write: If you've tried everything under the sun, and you still can't force yourself to write something, it might be time to come to terms with the idea that you may not want to write anything at all. The only way to know if this is the case is to do some serious soul-searching about why you want to write. If there's a will, there's a way. But if there isn't a will, well, you can figure out the rest.

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Allie Long is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia, majoring in economics and English. Her poems and essays appear in Hooligan Magazine, The Rising Phoenix Review, and Bird's Thumb. You can find more of her work at
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Angela Mackintosh said...

Great post, Allie! I've always been a bit of a perfectionist, and I recently read that it's a personality disorder that correlates with depression and anxiety, which makes total sense because I've always battled with the two. =/ Perfectionism is a constant work in progress, but I've found that to stop it I need solid deadlines, I have to let things go, tell myself that whatever project I'm working on is a smaller goal on my scale of larger goals, delegate when I need to get away from it, work with other people, and to stop the constant editing. And I agree, free writing or stream-of-consciousness writing is great. I like to use a timer to make sure that I don't edit before it rings. :)

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