How does one of my favorite authors overcome writer's block? He doesn't believe in it. He does, however, believe in getting stuck. What’s the difference? Being stuck sounds like something that’s your fault. You’ve made a mistake and now you don’t know where to go. Being blocked, though, that sounds like something that is being done to you. You are a victim of the the gods or the universe or a fickle muse. Writers are clever enough to have developed this strategy to excuse not writing.
“Cellists don’t have cellist block. Gardeners don’t have gardener’s block. TV hosts do not have TV host block.” - Neil GaimanTweet It!
I get the to office before anyone else. I’m in workout clothes and I use the common area to do a short yoga routine or quick workout before sitting down and writing for an hour. I don’t open my email. I don’t check social media. It’s just me and words and I’m slowly waking up as I’m drinking my coffee and working on a story.
At least, that’s how its supposed to go. But I feel like a liar even writing that. I don’t work out and write every day. But every day I tell myself the story that I write every day. And that leads to a lot of writing days. Resolve isn't being perfect, it’s being determined.
Some days I write 200 words. Some days I write almost 2,000. Some days everything flows effortlessly. Some days I feel like smashing my face on the keyboard would result in better paragraphs than what I’ve made.
But almost everyday I sit. With the words and the quiet. On a good writing day I feel like I can do anything. On a good writing day I can conquer the world. But good writing days do not simply arrive like a spring thunderstorm; I have to hammer them out with resolve and routine. I have to give my creative mind structure and a place to play.
When we are kids, we learn play is the opposite of the work, and we spend most of our adulthood trying to unlearn it.
When I know I will write every day my mind churns while I’m doing other tasks, thinking of what needs to happen next. Setting up the boundaries of routine, making myself sit down and every day and stare at the computer screen, lets my mind run wild within the time and space I’ve granted it.
Many writers and other creatives have said this, and their personal routines range from eccentric to incredibly precise. There’s no one way to write, or paint, or code or build or sing. But finding a routine, having the dedication to practice your craft on a regular basis, will push you into new realms of creativity. Get out your calendar. Schedule time to make things. Do it now. And do it again tomorrow.
Felix Morgan is a writer, professor, and online-dating consultant. She lives in Austin, Texas with two warrior-princess-ninja-superheroes and some other wild animals. You can read more of her musings, emo poetry, and weird fiction here.
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