Writer’s Block: Not Quite What I Was Expecting

To be honest this wasn’t quite what I was expecting when I hit the dreaded ‘writer’s block’. For years I’ve been able to type away, through thick and thin, and yet I’m now sat behind a screen not knowing what to do. I knew it had to come at some point, I just didn’t expect it now.

Let’s make this clear, the writer’s block I *think* I’m currently facing is not due to lack of ideas or inspiration. That is very much not a problem right now (unless you can count an overabundance of ideas as a problem). The problem is more that when I type something the words feel dry, as if they lack energy or flavour. Out will pour multiple paragraphs of content, then I look back at it an hour or a day later and just want to delete it all. It is unfair a comparison to make, but it feels like some kind of post-natal blog depression. Some days I can’t even bear to write something new, for fear that it will never match up to my demanding standards.

There’s no need to consult a doctor or Google over this text-based disease, I know exactly where it stems from and why it’s not something that can be cured overnight. Over the past couple of months I have ploughed as much time as possible into writing a novel. Not just any novel, the novel which I have been telling myself I am going to write for quite literally years. I’ve worded and reworded the synopsis hundreds of times in my head since I was seventeen years old and, like this frustrating itch or swelling lump on my body, I feel like I can no longer deny myself and my mind the injustice of not putting these thoughts into black and white. I need relief. For many nights I have woken up in cold sweats having seen the lead character in my dreams and I find myself frequently walking past colleagues blindly just because instead of seeing them, I see the scenes of an unwritten novel play out right in front of my face. You may think me romantic for saying these things, but it’s all completely true and happening right now. The mind my a beautiful thing, but it is by no means simple to understand. Needless to say my novel needs writing, if not to free me from fictional torture.

This is where the difficulty comes in. The novel I’m writing is not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s not a comedy, but it’s dystopian. If you’ve never come across the genre before then think titles such as 1984, Brave New World, Handmaid’s Tale. They’re books which relate to a fallen world, one which has strived for perfection but failed. This where the blog gets heavily impacted because, on top of work, life and investing heavy amounts of time writing a dark storyline, it is difficult to be upbeat and funny with the little remaining energy I have to write the blog.

So you’d think therefore the novel would be the best dam thing in the world, that Nobel prize winning literature would be flowing like rivers from mind to PC. It really feels like it isn’t. My hope had been that by reading other novels I’d be inspired in my writing style and tone of voice but instead I feel pig-sick. I (wrongly) convince myself that I could never write anything as good as my literary predecessors and I even start doubting my own storyline. Despite having it rattling around my brain for seven plus years I find myself questioning if what I have really is a solid story. “Surely someone would have written this already if it was any good?” At which point I glance back to my open Word document and feel empty and the sight of pages stuffed with text.

This was not what I expected from writer’s block. This unfounded self-loathing, self-criticism, mild self-disgust. I think to myself that I should stop reading, but I then shake my head of this thought. To tell a writer to stop reading really would be literary suicide. Another recommended fix would be to get someone to read my work, but I can’t even bring myself to do that and then I get angry with myself for not taking the pride I should in my work. And thus the endless bitter circle repeats itself once more. I said it above and I’ll say it again, there is no quick fix to this. Based on this acceptance I’m therefore going to adopt the third way, to keep writing and editing and writing until I shake off all these negative thoughts. Tackle the problem ‘word on’ so to speak. After all, 1984 wasn’t written in a day and I’m pretty sure Orwell didn’t publish his first draft. Let’s get words onto paper and go from there. You can do this Alice, you can dam well do this.

If there is one thing to take light from this unpleasant situation it’s that, in developing a form of writer’s block, I finally feel like I am becoming a serious writer.

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