The Psychology of Writer’s Block

By: Victor Racek

What is writer’s block?

It is a condition in which an author experiences difficulty producing new work or experiencing a slowdown in creative output. The disorder can manifest itself by having trouble coming up with original ideas, as well as struggling to produce any writing for extended periods. Writer’s block does not only depend on how long it has been since the last written piece; it also depends upon one’s productivity when working on that specific task.


What causes writer’s block?

It is often fear that stops writers from putting their thoughts and ideas out there. This fear can be of being judged by others or criticism by readers. It can also be a worry about whether their work will be accepted by publishers or readers. For some people, this fear can be the biggest reason they don’t produce any new work. It is commonly accepted that many writers and creatives suffer from perfectionism. It is normal to want to do our very best before even starting a sentence. Most people use perfectionism as a way of protecting themselves from harsh criticism or failure.  Unfortunately, trying to write the perfect sentence, paragraph, or novel will usually lead most writers to never write a single word. Relying too heavily on self-criticism typically holds writers back from writing. By comparing their work to that of other, more successful writers or even their own earlier work, most writers can often spiral until they can’t see their work in a realistic light, and nothing ever seems to be good enough. Some people who experience writer’s block don’t want to write, but they are being coerced into writing by others. This often happens with parents or teachers.


How to overcome writer’s block?

One of the best ways to overcome writer’s block is to read. Reading, whether it’s your favorite author or someone new, is a reliable way to break through the blocks and start writing again.  When consuming other writers’ words, it becomes a challenge to surpass that writer’s level of attainment. This inspires the positive motivation to share one’s thoughts on the page. Many writers look to their writing heroes for guidance. From Shakespeare to Faulkner, from Byron to Plath, each author has a distinct style and voice that has nourished subsequent generations of creatives. The idle, not the well-read, are the victims of writer’s block. You can get assistance with writer’s block by opening the best screenwriting books. Therefore, get yourself a Kindle or a real book to get started.


Advice from “the King”

Stephen King is a prolific writer who is seldom troubled by problems like writer’s block. One might presume as much given how prolific he has always been. However, King was recently forced to face writer’s block, and this event led to a particularly deadly plot twist in his epic plague novel, The Stand. Despite having been extraordinarily productive in the past, one might underestimate the power of Writer’s Block when it confronts an author. Writer’s block is a common phenomenon that afflicts all writers in one form or another. Whether they’re celebrities or everyday people, writer’s block seems to pop up at some point. It can be a very frustrating experience and can make completing what you’ve set out to do seem insurmountable. There are several ways to overcome writer’s block, though, and most often it simply requires patience and persistence. But the only advice Stephan can give is to read. Reading is a must for every writer, and it can help you avoid writer’s block. Reading will help you write well, and by doing this you’ll break free from the blocks that have held you back in the past.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends.  In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.” -Stephan King


Does writer’s block go away?

Writer’s block is not usually a permanent condition, although, in cases of severe difficulty, it can last up to ten years. But don’t panic! Writer’s block is not as common as one might think. Most writers who experience writer’s block find that it lasts for hours or days, rather than weeks, months, or years. Writer’s block is not a universal experience, but it does happen, as evidenced by the many writers on the Internet who’ve discussed their experiences. Let’s take a look at a few: Emily Morgans, a romance writer, struggled with writer’s block for thirteen years, and it took finding an online writing community for her to be inspired again. Liz Arakelian, a pop-culture writer on Medium, had what she calls “the world’s longest writer’s block.” Even Reddit users have discussed their struggles with writer’s block, including one author who experienced a decade-long fight against the restrictive mental barrier.  Although long-term writer’s block isn’t ubiquitous, it does happen. Writers can find relief from writer’s block by finding an online writing community or by talking to other writers face-to-face.


Best advice

Writers who are struggling need room to explore their thoughts, as well as some freedom to take risks. However, they also need a structure that the writing process provides. Before you can start writing, you need to read a thousand books. That’s just the beginning though. You’ll have to keep at it until your words come out smoothly and without hesitation. Sometimes the first draft is simply you, telling yourself the story. But eventually, with enough practice and perseverance, you will improve and produce work of higher quality. Enjoy you’re writing.

If you or you know someone going through a personal crisis, contact one of the following agencies for assistance. These resources provide counseling and assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988 (Call or Text)

Crisis text: 741741

Jewish community

Services-Miami-Dade Helpline:

305-358-HELP (4357) – English, Spanish, and Creole

Miami-Dade Helpline: 211

Trevor Lifeline: (Crisis Support for LGBTQ Youth)

Call: 1-866-488-7386

Text: START to 678-678

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