On Getting Rid Of Writer’s Block

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DSCF0860I’ve been going through a few weeks of being unable to write. I spent the first week after my trip recovering from a nasty cold. The second week  I finished up laundry and caught up on missed appointments.  I don’t know what took up the third week but it wasn’t writing and that is what I wanted to get back into. During the fifth week, disgusted and scared that I might be suffering from a blockage, I decided to simply sit down at my computer and see what might come forth.  I had no problem writing blog posts. But working on my book was another story.

It probably had a lot to do with the fact that I had finished Part II of my book while I was sick in England. I couldn’t go out much and needed something to keep my mind occupied rather than allow myself to turn bitchy and unpleasant to be around.  But back at home and coaxing those first words out for Part III seemed well nigh impossible. I needed to change my style from a time line narrative to something more free and open, where I  allow myself to become the person I am now …  not the person I was back during the days before I took control of my life and began the process of healing from the trauma I’d been through.

But it was hard for me to change costumes.  Since I started this project, I’d drag out the old screwed-up me every day, dressed in her victimhood and write in her voice. I’ve been doing that for almost a year now and had gotten pretty good at.  Through the writing process the pain of that time has now been dealt with and I no longer feel the hurt, the dread or the fear I made myself return to in order to begin my travels back in time. Who says writing isn’t healing?

In my first attempts to move forward in time, my natural instinct was to return to that old time driven story which I wanted to be done with. I wanted Part III to be more open, philosophical, and forgiving of those who had done me wrong. Whenever I began to write about my process of healing I was drawn into the conflict of who to be … Joan, past or present.  The result?  Nothing! So I gave myself some time to relax and clean out a few closets, which seemed to be a natural remedy for the undertaking of making the shift I wanted. I read through journals of my healing time and otherwise occupied my time with seeing friends and having some fun.

Knowing that I was going to see my writing coach, Kevin, this week, I sat down on the weekend in front of the screen to see what would happen.  I typed a few beginning words.  I didn’t like them. I deleted them, took a deep breath, and started again.  It took a while but before too long I was on my way to writing the transition chapter into Part III.  Monday night having finished that chapter, I started another.  Same thing.  I couldn’t stand the opening words I chose, deleted them and tried again. Words started to pour out in bucket loads.   The next morning I sat down again to continue work on that chapter and wrote another five hundred words before my appointment with Kevin. I didn’t want to stop. All I want to do now is keep going. I have no difficulty getting back to where I was after taking breaks and I seem to have entered the third phase of my book without further difficulty.

As in the past when I’ve had difficulty writing, I’ve taken some time off and allowed the project to simmer on a back burner.  Sure, I pissed and moaned about my lack of words, but eventually when I stopped fighting it, I was able to relax and try again.  It has always worked.

How do you end periods of being unable to write?  I’d love to hear about your ways of getting back to work.


  1. Boy, do I relate! I have a book I’ve been working on forever, that just doesn’t seem to want to be born. Like you, I sense that I am in transition, and until I can figure out who I am with regard to the book, my voice doesn’t feel authentic. Writing a memoir or memory stories keeps one shifting between who we were, who we are and who we are becoming. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only cure is time, distance and perspective. It’ll be written when it’s written. Beating myself into writing has never worked for me. There are so many things that affect one’s ability to write, health issues, sleep deprivation, stress, internal and external change; I think this is especially true for the type of writing we do. I love the feeling of being in the zone, but it can’t be sustained indefinitely!

    • Dorothy, Sounds like we’re in the same place. Distance and perspective really helps as well as reading through old journals written during the time you are writing about. But whatever I do I know the best cure is to take a break and have some fun.

  2. Joan – I love my writer’s block http://wp.me/pP1C5-bj