Sometimes we have to fight for every inch of ground on the page and sometimes we hit a roadblock and we have to fight through it. Jeff Goins is the author of five best-selling books, including The Art of Work and Real Artists Don’t Starve. He’s seen the impact of writer’s block on other writers and experienced it himself. He has some hard-hitting, helpful advice about how to push past obstacles:
“I think writer’s block is a bad name for a number of real problems facing writers, most notably of which is fear. Typically when I feel blocked, I’m really afraid. And almost always, that’s because my next step feels like a leap instead of just doing the next thing. If I feel stuck, I have to ask myself what am I really afraid of and is that really my next step? For example, if I’m working on a book and start to feel stuck, it’s usually because I’m doubting myself, wondering what right I have to talk about this topic. Who am I? But that fear is misplaced. It’s not the right time to worry about that. My job right now is to write the next 500 words, not worry what the critics will be saying a year from now.
“The way out of this mess is through. A friend of mine who used to do long-distance running gave me some advice on dealing with pain as a writer. “What do you do about the cramps?” I asked. I was noticing they hit my in the gut usually at the three or four mile mark. I thought he’d have some great advice on how to avoid them altogether. In fact, I assumed this was the case.
“His answer surprised me, though. ‘Cramps? What do I do? I keep running, and eventually they go away. I run through the cramps.’
“What do I do when I feel blocked? I write through the block. That may sound ridiculous, but even when you’re blocked you can still write. Maybe it’s not the thing you wanted to write or what you you’re capable of writing. But you can type. So that’s what I do. Anything and everything. Sometimes, it makes sense. Sometimes, it’s total nonsense. But I push through the discomfort, so that I can keep going. Momentum is a writer’s friend.”
Sometimes the difficulty you face offers the path through it to the other side. Write on.