Ever since I started writing, I have had the same problem every writer faces: the ups and downs of getting the words flowing from my mind onto the page. Sometimes the words flow and it feels like paradise. At other times, though, it feels like I’m using a corkscrew to slowly– and painfully– tease each word out. My word count on those days is very small to say the least.
Those days are also frustrating, right? You sit down in front of the computer, or with a notebook, full of the ideas you’ve been having about; your story and your characters have been filling your mind endlessly, and when the time comes, your mind seems completely blank. Sometimes it feels that all you’re good at is daydreaming stories, never to finally succeed in getting them out. It’s one of the ways I feel that I get writer’s block.
Less than a two weeks ago, because I’m always looking to find happiness in the mist of my anxiety and depression, I came about a book called If you’re so smart, why aren’t you happy. In the book, the author talks about ego and flow –flow being the ability to lose track of time when you are performing an activity. From reading those chapters and my own experience, I realized that my writing block was most of the time self-imposed –not that I ever had any doubt, but sometimes it’s useful to have someone else say that to you.
To put it bluntly, my ego was getting in the way.
Instead of letting the words come out and focus on just my ideas, I kept judging them. I feared the ideas weren’t good enough, or that there would be a plot hole somewhere that I wasn’t seeing, and that when the book came out, readers would wonder how on Earth did I manage to miss the point completely?
After trying to go through these filters and more, it’s no wonder the words didn’t want to come out. My own fear and ego were getting in the way. I was thinking more of what others would think of me, and of my ability to be a writer, than of the pleasure writing gave me.
Yet, once I realized it was my ego that was stopping me, the writing block just disappeared. It seemed like magic. Now each time I sit to write I get into flow and forget the world exists. Writing is nothing but pleasure once again. I even have to set up alarms so that I don’t forget I have to go to work!
Not every day starts with flow, though, but now, when the words refuse to come out, I stop and think about what’s going through my mind. Am I thinking of what others will think of my ideas? Asking myself that question has been working so far to get me out of my block.
The threat of writer’s block will always be there, but it can be pushed back and defeated each day. I guess it’s just a matter of reminding yourself why you are writing and honestly asking yourself if it isn’t your ego the one who’s getting in the way.