By Rebecca Carey
So looking back after graduation I realized how little time I gave myself to write while I was in college. While setting aside time for myself to write was difficult before college it proved to be impossible while actually enrolled. The excuses would pour from my mind, I have to study for the test or I have to write the paper that is due three weeks away, and I never took the time to sit down and write.
Sure I would write for my writing classes but those writing works produced in those classes are just never the same. I was never able to get any good material from those classes except maybe a few poems.
I wish I had a better work ethic when it came to my writing because it would have been a perfect time in my life to write. I had open times in my schedule between work, school, friends, and clubs. I could have fit writing in somewhere, so why didn't I?
Was it my lack of motivation to spend the extra time at my craft? Perhaps. Was it my unreasonable need to watch Netflix and finish every single season of House in one semester? Probably. Was it my belief that I needed to improve my resume while in college so I could get a job afterwards? Maybe. Or was it my belief that I wasn't strong enough or good enough of a writer for it to matter if I wrote? Definitely.
After sitting through multiple workshop classes (fiction, poetry, nonfiction) and listening to my friends in the Pen & Inkwell talk about their writing or reading their pieces out loud I just didn't feel like my writing was strong enough to bring up. I would only workshop my pieces when it was needed for a grade and I never read one of my writing pieces out loud for my club. While every writer feels self-conscious about their writing capabilities I definitely did not believe in mine. So in the sense that there is writer's block, how about we call this craft block.
In an attempt to fix my craft block I started researching. In an article on the website Men With Pens Esther Litchfield-Fink, a blogger who writes about writing, talks about why you can't write and how to overcome those problems. There are four steps according to Fink that a writer needs to take in order to get back into writing. The first step is to identify what is holding you back. Once you do that you are able to move on to flipping those beliefs into positive sayings instead of negative ones. The third step in the process is to pick three of the new beliefs or positive sayings you created and to post them where you can see them everyday. Then start living by those beliefs. It may prove difficult at first but eventually you will find yourself succeeding in your writing like you used to.
In another article by Joe Bunting on The Write Practice titled "When You Should Be Writing But Can't..." he gives examples of what a writer can do instead if they can't write what they want to. His first tip is reading which would be very useful since reading often is the inspiration for writing. He suggested making a goal of how many books to read in a year and then you are always reading so you can make that goal. Another tip he gives is to have an adventure. A lot of times writers will use their own lives to pull from when they write their own works. By going out and having an adventure you would be giving the writing part of your brain more fuel and wood to get the fire going again. One of his tips is to just write anyways which is something writers always hear. Even if you are writing complete crap you should continue to write because somewhere in there you have a good story or a good sentence waiting to spring to life on your page. If you don't write it then you are letting it rot and die.
In another article by Elizabeth Moon about writers block she identifies three different types of writers block: The Novice Nerves, Stuckness, and Block. The Novice Nerves is the inability to start a new project. She suggests using writing prompts to help loosen you up before actually diving into your new project. She also finds that working on two projects at once can help with the Novice Nerves. Stuckness is when a story is still alive and breathing but is just stuck on one detail or one sentence. Stuckness mostly happens early on in a writers career because they lack the skill needed to proceed. If you work on it through your writing you will soon rarely find yourself in the situation where Stuckness is your problem. Block is when the story is dead and feels like there was never any life to it at any point in the past. If you have block that isn't under a contract with someone or a company then you can drop the story and maybe try to salvage the characters or setting for a new story. She includes a few different forms of each which are really interesting and helpful if applying to your own life and work.
Overall, not being able to write is not the worst occurrence for writers. It is a fixable situation that can usually be aided by some prompts, reading, and continuous writing. Oh, and coffee...always coffee.