Writer’s block: What is it and how can you deal with it?

Writer's Block

Writer’s block can become a roadblock for authors irrespective of the stage in their career. The professional ones who’ve faced this several times just know how to deal with it better. But if you have just started writing you may not know what is happening or why. There’s no way you can completely avoid it and it’s only a matter of time before you start staring at one. Before you hit the panic button, here are a few points that you might help you.

What is writer’s block?

Simply put, writer’s block is the lack of ability or desire to generate new material. You might be working on a novel, a short article, a series of blog posts or a poem…and your mind goes blank. No matter what you do, nothing seems to move. You get anxious and try harder to churn out some creative content. And the brain refuses to cooperate.

What causes writer’s block?

– Your inspiration tank might be running low. You may have been working for too long on the same topic and the feeling of déjà vu looms large.

– The pressure to live up to the expectations of the world (fans, publishers, editors, critics) might mean that you set the bar too high for yourself.

– It could also be about capability. If you have taken up a project that is not within your sphere of expertise, you may have no idea how to start it.

– Distraction can often be the culprit, if you have got your fingers in too many activities.

– Or you are just overworked. Taken on more work than you can manage?

How can you deal with writer’s block?

– If you know what the reason is, the solution becomes easier to find.

– If the root cause got something to do with ability or knowledge, see if you can first spend some time learning about the topic. Just go on the internet and read as much as you can. Forget about your project for a while.

– If you’ve set the bar too high, go easy on yourself. You don’t have to create a masterpiece in the first sitting. Generate some basic content and re-visit it again to see what you can improve when you review it.

– If it’s distraction, rather than trying to sort it out in your head, list down all that you have been doing on a piece of paper. You’ll get more clarity that way. Then prioritise the list – the most important activities on top.

– For the overloaded souls, the best way is to take a break from what you are doing. Come back after a while and start with a few easier tasks first. The smaller successes can prod you on to move on to the bigger tasks.

– Inspirational issues are tougher to fix. Watch a funny, emotional, movie. Go for a jog. Hit the gym and exercise a little. Or like the earlier point, just take a break.

More often than not, writer’s block is a temporary phase with no serious side effects. So if you cannot churn out 100 words a minute, that’s fine.

Photo by Adam Lyon

9 Comments

  1. BDZ says:

    Hie Sameer I’m a writer ands have submited a manuscript in November last year to Purple Folio but still up to now they havent turned back to me.Is there any chance of getting representation from them.

  2. Kritika says:

    Hi Sameer,
    your post was really helpful.
    i’m fifteen and wrote a YA fiction, should i go for an agent or directly for publisher?

  3. Shubha says:

    So helpful. Thank you Sameer 🙂

  4. Santosree says:

    Hi Sameer,
    I am looking for a publisher for a book on Authoring of Safety Data sheets as per the new global harmonization system of the United Nations. The book targets manufacturers and chemical user industries. Please let me know which publishers to approach. Please feel free to advice in this regard.

    Awaiting your early response.

    Thanks

  5. srijabasu says:

    Hi Sameer,

    Thanks for this informative post. Could you please tell me about book publishing houses located in Mumbai?

    Best regards ,
    srija

  6. Dipti says:

    Hi Sameer, I am keen to know…suppose Penguin India publishes me, will they handle the sale of publishing rights in other countries as well, or will I be expected to do that?Thanks for everything i have learned from you.

  7. sheenam says:

    I’m a bit confuse sameer. Whenever there comes an opportunity of writing story.The publishers always ask for writing 2 or 3 chapters of your story. So how to deal with submittion? which one is better, submit the first 2- 3 chapters or the beginning or climax in those chapters??

  8. Manisha Malhotra says:

    Hi Sameer,
    I am the author of two books and my first, which was a detective fiction novel was published when I was 13. My second, however, is in a completely different genre.
    I have sent out my book to the top publishers and even literary agents. Some of these agents made big promises and later rejected my book without even reading it. It is a spiritual fiction novel and I had a professor at Oxford review it. She, in fact, really liked my writing. I am in distress because I don’t see any potential in the traditional publishing houses at least. I have received a few replies from self publishing houses but I am not really leaning towards them.
    Can you advice me on what approach to take for the book?

  9. Pranav Mishra says:

    Hi Sameer,
    I have been following your posts from time to time and they are certainly treasures for people who are yet to get published.
    Mine is a curious case though. I have been writing for more than eleven years now and during this time I have written ten novels. My writing is more towards literary fiction, focusing on issues of society and various facets of us human beings. I have worked on many social challenges, conflicts with society and within and so on.
    The problem is that I had not applied for publication since my first book was rejected by a publishing house more than ten years ago. And then for a major part I was posted by the company for which I work in small towns, far away from any literary culture. And then for a major part I just loved writing and kept on writing, and exploring many themes through my writing, and now I want to be published.
    After completing my tenth novel recently, I have sent the proposal to a ‘reputed’ literary agent. I also mentioned that I have other works as well, which I may present, if asked.
    I am confused as regards how to approach the matter, and I would like to ask you very specific questions.
    – Can I submit all my work I consider good in one go?
    – Can I even approach literary agents abroad. (Some of my work draws parallels to the western society, some give insights about India and its various conflicts, as well as interaction between east and west)?
    – Can I submit different works to different agents / publishing houses?
    – Are simultaneous submissions fine? (The question I asked just before it is different. There I am talking about sending ‘different’ works to different agents / publishing houses.

    My priority remains to get published. I should have tried it all the time, through all these ten years, but it has passed. One has to strike a balance between job, family and writing, and I have always been in small towns far away from any literary culture – for example, an interior village of Assam for three years. (I am presently 37 years old.)

    Regards.

    Pranav Mishra

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