When You’re Down and Out: Overcome Emotional Writer’s Block


EmotionalWritersBlockWe’ve discussed overcoming writer’s block not long ago. And there are various types, one of the strongest, and most formidable forms, can be emotional writer’s block. It’s not a moment when you can’t think of a character trait, or a particular chapter is proving troublesome.

It’s emotional writer’s block. Those distraught natures that overtake you and make you wonder if it’s worth it to continue on. Agent rejections strike us all down, endless edits take time away from future projects we’d rather be working on, similar books to yours are being published and you worry you’ll be viewed as a knockoff writer trying to ride the coattails of a successful author. In those moments, you find yourself wondering if you should continue.

As a result, your writing comes to a screeching halt. You stare at the screen, uninspired, distraught, and defeated.

Writer, and fellow Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer member, Aaron Michael Ritchey, wrote a brilliant post just this two days ago. Perhaps the chaos of the holidays and setting new resolutions for 2014 brings it out of all of us. If you need more writing encouragement, check out his post on Savvy Authors about “Why this is the last thing I’ll ever write.

The answer may come from one source that is consistent, a dedicated cheerleader that always brings you back to a positive attitude. It may be one person; it may be one song, a movie about the underdog, or perhaps a poem. For me, nothing is a better quick fix to get me fired up to be a better writer than Walt Whitman’s poem “Darest Thou Now, O Soul.”

It may take something completely unrelated like giving yourself an indulgent meal to vet your feelings with nacho cheese and bacon. Perhaps getting a good workout or MMA training will help vent some underlying frustration.

One thing is for sure; persistence can be the differentiator of an established author, and an “aspiring” writer. The unfortunate truth of the matter is as a writer you’re going to get knocked down far more than you think. You need to surround yourself with the people and events that support you. If there are discouraging writers around you, find ways to filter them in healthier ways. You need constructive criticism to become better, but never allow it to become constrictive. When critique groups begin criticizing without recommendations for improvement, it’s poisonous. It’s absolutely vital to know how you can improve, but there have to be paths placed before you.

How have you overcome emotional writer’s block? Chime in with the comments section. The conversation’s always live on Twitter @ThomasAFowler, use the hash-tag #WritersConquest. As always, keep checking my official website for the latest updates. Thanks so much for taking on the Writer’s Conquest.

And finally, I give you Walt Whitman and “Darest Thou Now, O Soul.”

DAREST thou now, O Soul,

Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,

Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?

No map, there, nor guide,

Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,  

Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not, O Soul; Nor dost thou—all is a blank before us; All waits, undream’d of, in that region—that inaccessible land.

Till, when the ties loosen, 

All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,

Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds, bound us.

Then we burst forth—we float,

In Time and Space, O Soul—prepared for them;

Equal, equipt at last—(O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul. 

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3 comments

    • Thanks for the awesome post earlier this week. It’s so funny that I had written a rough draft on Monday of this, then you post yours discussing a very similar notion of being a bit down on the process and trying to rediscover the joy in writing. Sometimes we need to just let go and make sure we’re having fun and enjoying the writing first.

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