If you’re like me, you hesitate to take chances with your writing. What if it screws everything up? What if it goes nowhere? What if it’s a waste of time?
The most triumphant of tales follow a specific story arc that
we as writers must replicate in order to be successful in writing our own books.
Yet the most memorable of stories are those that take chances, ones that do
something so different enough that it stands out as genius among a sea of shelves
stocked with hardcover novels.
Sometimes, creativity is a choice. You miraculously have the afternoon free to take on your creative project, be it writing, painting, crafts or whatever else lets you be expressive.
Sometimes, creativity is not a choice. You have more days than not in your career where a creative solution from you is needed either minutes before the end of the day or at a high-peak, high-stress moment.
Writer’s block is the struggle to get words on the page. Writer’s crisis is the anxiety attack resulting in the fear of coping with writing failures, from your writing career to your writing reputation.
Writer’s crisis can cripple a writer’s writing career or writing accomplishments. Writer’s block merely keeps the writer from writing for the week.
This is a serious issue that the Internet is afraid to tackle. Here are the stats.
I’m not afraid. And neither are you.
So, how do you go about confronting your writer’s crisis?
Simple. Ask a question. That’s it.
Get out your journal. Look in the mirror. Pull an empty chair in front of you and pretend your writer’s crisis is sitting in it. Then ask the question.
The question you ask is this: Why am I suffering from writer’s crisis?
Before you bounce from this blog post, I promise it’s this easy and this hard.
You need to ask the question several times. The first few times, you’ll only scratch the surface of the problem, avoid the problem, or mock the problem. But if you’re persistent and are willing to be honest with yourself, you can get to the root of your problem.
Watch this video that I referenced in my last blog post. It shows the complicated process of asking only one question again and again:
By asking the question again and again, you’ll uncover why you feel insecure about your writing, why you feel your writing career is doomed to fail, why you feel like writing is a waste of time, why you feel empty.
If you want a solution to your writer’s crisis, all you have to do is ask.
Did you confront your writer’s crisis? What was the root emotions or root cause to your writer’s crisis? Share your story below.
Granted, a sitcom can make me cry from time to time. But those tears were fueled by the passion between on-screen characters that I’ve been rooting for.
This time was different. That’s because this scene was about me.
Not just me. Not just Frasier. It’s also about you.
(I recommend watching the three-minute clip before reading on.)
After eating my feelings and Internet shopping for quarterlife crisis books, I watched the scene again. And again. And again.
Every word he spoke resonated with me. Every movement he made I saw as my own. Every pause was filled with the doubt and emptiness I also felt—and repressed.
How can I relate to a psychiatrist going through a midlife crisis? We couldn’t be any more different:
We pursue different professions
We are in different phases of our lives
We live in different locations
We are different genders
We don’t share many hobbies or interests
And the most glaring: I am real, he is not.
But the connection was still there. We both shared the career crisis.
For me, it’s the writer’s crisis.
Assuming that I have one reader that hasn’t confronted the writer’s crisis…
The writer’s crisis is a period of psychological stress and loss of self-confidence triggered by various phases of the writing process or one’s writing career.
For the rest of you, I don’t need to introduce you to the writer’s crisis. You’ve met before. You may have known each other for years.
I know I have. But it seems like our literature doesn’t know the phrase.
If you do a quick Internet search for writer’s block, your results will be in the millions.
Now try writer’s crisis. Most of the webpage results keep “writer’s” and “crisis” separated by many words, most often by whole paragraphs. It’s as if “writer’s” has filed a restraining order against “crisis.”
Want to see the results plunge? Search “writer’s crisis” (including the quotes). Not even a thousand results.
(Don’t get me started on the poor search findings for books on the writer’s crisis…)
Why the low results? The writer’s crisis isn’t a new concept. In fact, every writer I know trudges (and sometimes heavily drinks) through a writer’s crisis.
But all we write about is writer’s block.
Books and blogs (including my own) write about solving writer’s block, but not about solving the writer’s crisis.
Isn’t writer’s block merely a symptom of the writer’s crisis?
We could treat the symptom with a quick fix bandage for a month or two. Heck, we can pretend this week’s trending fix-it solution will kill any fears of failure or self-doubt about our writing skills.
But how long will that last? Isn’t it about time we too sat in the orange chair?
In next week’s blog, I’ll discuss how to face your writer’s crisis head-on and identify the fears or issues holding back your writing.
Have you experienced writer’s crisis? Share your story below.
Sound like a waste of time? Probably does if you’re on a tight deadline. Think of what you could be doing instead of sitting still thinking.
Ah, but inner reflection is as important (if not more so) than outward action. Meditation allows you to open your mind to new possibilities, to revisit your writing philosophy, to create or strengthen your plan before writing out your story.
You know you should be writing—but you simply don’t feel like it. If you’ve felt this way for some time, close your eyes and listen to this writing meditation. It’s an unorthodox way to cure writer’s block and to stimulate your inner writing passion, but it does the trick for me when I need it most.
Easily distracted? This writing meditation strengthens your focus and your ability to concentrate on your writing. I practice this meditation exercise when I have looming deadlines and a lack of concentration.
As much as we love to write, at times it can be stressful. Instead of letting your blood pressure rise and bottling up those crummy frustrations, listen to this writing meditation to let the pressures go so that you are relaxed for future writing sessions.
What meditation do you recommend for writers? Share your favorite mediation below.
I finally had time to read the first issue in my subscription to Poets & Writers Magazine. A half hour before bedtime, I sneak in an article or two (read in order, of course) before I click off the lights and flip on my alarm clock for another busy day eight hours away.
Within these pages, I read about the adventures of writers taking on wilderness retreats, literary agents discovering that hidden gem of a manuscript and authors publishing their first, second and third novel.
(insert dramatic sigh here)
Reading about so many writers accomplishing great goals—goals that I want to achieve—doesn’t make me jealous. It makes me sad.
I remember the conference I had with a professor I greatly admired during my first year of graduate school. He looked at me seriously and said, “I predict you’ll be signing your first publishing contract in three years.”
That was five years ago.
Where has all that time gone?
I was busy jumpstarting my marketing career, defending my graduate thesis and moving across the country. I’ve been squeezing every minute I have writing blog posts and social media updates and digital content in between for numerous companies.
But I haven’t been writing for myself.
My professor said that I should only concentrate on my writing, to take out loans while I finished polishing that perfect manuscript. But loans have high interest rates, and debt crushes my independent spirit. I figured I could balance both my writing and my career.
Well, I was wrong.
After a successful day of brainstorming, scribbling, rewriting and posting—I’m exhausted. My right brain is throbbing and all I want to do is hop into bed with a bowl of pasta and catch up on a TV show I’m already behind on.
I don’t regret my career decision. In fact, I love what I do. I discovered a career in digital marketing that blends my creativity and competitive nature. I get paid to write, the dream for writers.
But I’m struggling to balance all my goals.
Reading this magazine reminded me of why I wanted to be a writer. I forgot I wanted to be an author, to have my plays performed, to have my stories published, to run off into the wilderness and rework my manuscripts.
I need a good PTO package to get all this done.
How can I make all this happen in between the 9-to-5 grind, the errands, the morning jogs, the evening freelance gigs, the required eight hours of sleep?
I need to make the time to write.
So simple to say, yet so hard to do. But it’s really the only answer.
If I want it done, I must make time to get it done. I must value enough time in my schedule to dedicate to my fiction.
What can give? What am I doing now that I can cut back on or cut out completely?
I’m taking steps towards these goals. I’ve already submitted my creative work to several publications and play festivals. Time I spent surfing the web is now spent editing my fiction.
It’s not only about making the time to write. It’s also about making the most of that time. And with my competitive nature, I’m sure I’ll get it done.
Are you struggling to make time for your writing? Share your struggles below.
Athletes warm up and stretch before their workout to prepare their bodies for exercise. Muscles readied for the race will push harder, faster, stronger.
What does this have to do with writing?
If you’ve got the case of writer’s block, it’s probably because you’re not mentally prepared for the task. Creativity is about making connections that aren’t obvious, and you can’t do that in your writing when you’re procrastinating.
Just like your muscles, you must stretch your creativity regularly if you want your ideas to be more innovative.
It’s time to get off the couch and get to writing—by your own free will.
What Gets You Moving?
Think back to your best writing sessions. Were you writing in public or at home? What did you wear? What was the time of day? What did you hear? Smell? See?
All these factors activated your creativity. Recreate this exact moment at your next writing session. This will help you stay productive and be inspired to innovate.
Commit To Less
This doesn’t make any sense. Let me explain.
What if you’re putting too much pressure on yourself? Expecting too much from your writing session will send you running in the opposite direction.
It’s too much commitment. So only commit to sit in your writing workspace.
Let’s be honest. You’re bound to do more than just sit there. You’ll be motivated to pick up your pen or open your laptop and begin writing.