Goals and Their Enemy: Writer’s Block

In my previous posts about goals, I addressed digging into your dreams and making them a reality. I want to tackle the third part of that discussion, which is the emotions that hold us back from making dreams real.

In my last post I discussed overcoming failure, and talked about how making big goals is important, even if we fall short. It’s better to fall short on a big goal and go further than you would have if you would have just achieved a small goal.

But what happens when we encounter writer’s block? To me, writer’s block is a myth. It doesn’t exist.

To me, it’s really just another name for Fear. Emotions keep us from achieving our goals. We can logic the shit out of something, but if we have internal resistance, it all comes crumbling down. Then we encounter the close friend of Fear – Procrastination.

Writer’s block is the result of that friendship between Procrastination and Fear.

Fear of failure has prevented me from achieving my goals again and again, but it’s very pronounced with writing, because it’s easy to see when you haven’t been writing. There’s no hiding when your novel has stayed at 60,000 words for 6 months and you still want to write another 40,000.

I don’t stop writing because I’m out of ideas.

Though, sometimes I don’t know where to go with a story, then I end up with a mammoth of a story that meanders around.

It may sound strange to non-writers, but when I encounter fear or blocks, I just keep writing. Or I take a walk. When I’m writing or walking,

I have conversations with my characters where I enter their head and they just sit and ask themselves questions.

I’m sure in the world they live in, they probably think they are becoming schizophrenic, similar to the Will Ferrell movie Stranger Than Fiction. If you haven’t watched it, you need to!

Have you ever encountered anxiety where you just keep replaying something in your head, and you ask yourself a ton of questions like “How could I have changed this? What will they think? Did I make a fool of myself? Should I have said something different? What will I say the next time I see them?”

Or, maybe you’re trying hard to put together some Ikea furniture. Is this really piece A? It looks like piece B. Are these screws all the same size? Is this more black than brown? Is this supposed to be peeling here? What are these little button things and how do I put them on? Are these instructions written by someone who speaks English?

You can see how we have conversations with ourselves all the time. Sometimes these can take a turn for the worst and we start asking how we can call ourselves writers, or how we thought we had a good story idea.

Sit down with your fears. Ask it questions. Involve your characters and start asking them questions about this story you think is garbage, or that you think you’re not qualified enough to write.

What does your character think is happening? Who do they think killed the guy? Where are they supposed to go after they leave the coffee shop where nothing happened? What would your character like that would make their life more exciting?

All of the questions you have about your story, your characters have the answers. Ask them.

When you start asking questions and letting your mind wander and come up with answers, even if they are horrible ones that make no sense, you start to challenge fear. You push past procrastination and take back your story and your writing life.

If you can keep pushing, keep writing, keep asking questions, then fear no longer becomes a barrier. When you feel like you have nothing to write, write anyway. If you’re afraid you won’t get published, write anyway. Your purpose in life is to write, whether it’s good or bad, whether you get published or not.

Write because you love it. Engage with your muse and let it know that you serve it, and you’re not waiting for it to serve you.

It’s a partnership with your muse. Feed it, water it, talk to it a bit, and it will grow and blossom into something you never thought possible. Overcome fear, procrastination, and writer’s block by wading into the waters. You won’t drown, I promise. Writing is your life jacket, and it won’t fail you.

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