The last few newsletters have been all about how to know if you're ready to pitch and what to do with a brand-new story idea, but this one's for all of you who are stuck in that feeling of dread and overwhelm that many folks misname writer's block.
TRUTH: There's no contagion out there that infects your brain and renders you chronically unable to write.
But that doesn't mean writers don't get stuck. Let's face it, the discourse out there around the nature of art that's been brought into the limelight by recent (much-needed, much-supported) strikes and the advances in AI is enough to discourage even the most devoted creator.
So what can cause you to get stuck, and, more importantly, how to do get a one-way ticket out of Stucksville?
I'll let you in on a little secret: I just recently escaped Stucksville myself. It's true. My book didn't sell and I was pretty bitter about it. I started to wonder if I'd be a permanent resident in Stucksville. If I had anything at all to say that was worth saying in a book. If I'd never have a good idea again.
Sound familiar? Read on...
We're writers, so we believe in the innate power of language. And the shadow side of that innate power--I call them Doubt Demons, but negative self-talk or internal monologue also fit--can tell us some pretty awful and paralyzing things.
But the beauty of creativity is that we can use it to squelch those Doubt Demons by turning their proclamations on their head and recasting them using the language of success.
So here's a little exercise to help you jump-start that process. Complete the sentence that begins "Every time I'm stuck, I..." This is no time to censor yourself or those Doubt Demons. This list will probably feel pretty icky to write. It is a list of our deepest fears, our insecurities, and perhaps even some long-held beliefs.
But guess what? Nothing you just wrote is true. It's all fiction conceived by the Doubt Demons to trap you in Stucksville.
So now start another list that uses the language of success instead of the language of fear and bitterness. Mine looked like this:
- Every time I'm stuck, I'm able to get unstuck.
- Every time I'm stuck, I take the opportunity to remind myself that I am a Writer (hear me roar!).
- Every time I'm stuck, I trust that I will refocus when the time is right.
This list is the truth. Not the first one. Reread it as many times as you need to in order to let your heart see the truth in these words. Let those words speak louder than the Doubt Demon's taunts.
That exercise alone might not be enough to spring you from Stucksville, but it's a start. Add a little rest. Maybe a hug from a friend. A good book to spark your creativity. And some time.
Our writerly disappointments are real and they shouldn't be swept under the rug. But they shouldn't trap us in a disappointment spiral either. Feel the disappointment. Acknowledge it. Then move on.
I'm enjoying it here on the other side of Stucksville. I hope you'll join me soon!
PS - It's time for Round Six of CP Meet Cute, my free critique partner matching service. If you've been struggling to find a critique partner, I've got just the thing for you. All it takes is a few minutes of your time to fill out a brief survey about your writing, then I'll match you with a couple of other like-minded writers and give you a simple process to follow to figure out if you're a critique partner match. It's absolutely free and absolutely fun. Register today: https://pages.julieartz.com/cp-meet-cute