How many words do you write a day? Some novelists manage 2,000 words a day or even more, but most writers feel they've done a good job if they can turn out 500 to 1,000 words.
If you're writing zero words a day, you're blocked. Writers get blocked because they're anxious, or because they donít have enough information.
=> Dealing with anxiety
Anxiety can show up in various forms, either physical, mental, or emotional. You may feel tired, or have a head-ache. You may decide that you're bored with what you're writing, or so depressed you can't think. Or maybe you convince yourself that you're just too busy (the lawn needs mowing, and you should spend time with the kids). You'll do your writing tomorrow.
The anxiety block is hard to manage because you often donít realize that it is a block. You have terrific reasons for not writing. No one would expect you to write with a migraine, would they? And you really do need to mow the lawn.
The only way I've found to manage this block is to be tough on myself. I set myself a daily word target, usually 1,000. I may not reach that target, but before I go to bed, I MUST write 500 words. Every day.
Paradoxically, I've found that even when I'm not in the mood to write, or when I have a headache that would fell an ox, I feel better when I've written my 500 words. I often go on to write the full 1,000.
The most pernicious anxiety block occurs when you're convinced your writing is worthless. This block may happen as a result of chaos in some other area of your life: perhaps with relationships, or illness, or finances.
Handling this block takes careful management. First, try to see that it's a block, which has happened because of the stress you're under. Your writing is fine --- you've just lost perspective. If you can convince yourself of this, it's a major achievement.
Try to write anyway, even if you feel your writing is trash. If you can't, take a break from writing without feeling guilty. Relax, exercise, eat well, and indulge in a few movies, or a favourite hobby.
If this block lasts for more than a month or two, visit a therapist. There's no shame in this, and seeing someone can save you endless months of frustration.
=> Eliminating the "no info" block
You can also get blocked because you donít have enough information. You're trying to write the final draft, instead of tackling the writing process draft by draft.
Here's a handy way to prevent the "no info" block by taking your writing through clearly defined stages:
A. First draft: your thinking draft. In this draft, you write whatever you like. You're aiming for quantity here, rather than quality.
B. Your second draft. Your first draft has shown you what you want to say. In this draft, you have a crack at saying it.
C. Your clean-up draft. Your final draft. You've said what you want to say, now you get a chance to say it better. You clean up the redundancies and spice it up.
In practice, stage B may have several additional drafts, as many as you need: B1, B2, and more.
The easiest way to kill the no-info block for good is to allow yourself to write badly. Every day. This is because writing is hard when you try to think and write at the same time. Allow yourself to think on paper for as many drafts as you need. Then write the final draft with confidence.
=> Writing cycles
This isn't a block, it's a process. Everything happens in cycles, even your writing. Sometimes your writing catches fire. You're inspired. At other times, writing is like wading through quicksand, and it takes you forever to write 200 words.
Accept this. When you're in the low part of the cycle, aim lower. If your target was 1,000 words a day, make it 200. Or even 50.
Blocks are a part of the writer's life. Use the above tools to write your way out of them. As incredible as it may seem when you're in the middle of a block, the day will dawn when your block is not even a memory, and you can confidently say: "There's no such thing as writer's block!"
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Writer, author and journalist Angela Booth has been writing successfully for print and online venues for 25 years. She also writes for business. On her Web site http://www.digital-e.biz/ she conducts workshops and courses for writers.