The Secret Cure for Writer’s Block by India Drummond

For any of you who have spent a day, a week, a month (or more?) staring at a blank screen (or worse yet, avoiding the blank screen), I’m going to give you something that is worth gold: the super-secret cure for writer’s block.

There is no spoon.

What the hell?

No, really. It’s bullshit. There is no writer’s block. There is procrastination. There is being busy. There is being distracted. Then, God help us, there is Twitter.

Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block. Cops don’t get cop-block. Assassins don’t get a vague sense of malaise that prevents them from going out and slitting yet another throat. No, they just get up in the morning and do their damned job. And so should you.

Time to stop thinking of yourself as an artiste and get on with the hard work.

Writing is hard. I get that. I get it because I do it. Every time someone says to me something like: “Oh, I’ve always thought about writing a book, but I’m just too busy. It would be so nice not to have anything to do but sit around and write all day. Maybe when I retire.” I want to poke them in the eye.

Some days I’d rather do anything then face a half-finished outline, a scene that isn’t working, a corner into which I’ve painted myself. But if I lie to myself and say I’m “blocked”, I’ve lost the fight before I even get to my laptop.

So how do you get words on the page when the motivation isn’t there? Easy. Go back in your brain and remember the first time it occurred to you to be a writer. Better yet, the first time you read something of your own and thought, Hey, this is pretty good.

Remember that feeling?

Hang on to that memory until the feeling fills you up. Ignore the doubts, the self-sabotaging chatter in your brain, the voice that tells you it’s too hard, you’re too busy with other things, or you’ll do it later. It’s later now.

Next, think about what you hope to get out of this writing gig. I did myself a huge favour last month and created a ten-year plan for my writing career. I’ve been doing a lot of research into indie publishing ever since I decided to go indie on my next two books.

The one critical lesson I’ve taken away from that?

I now see that the most important thing I can do for my writing future is to write more books. I realised I’m working on a career, not a story. So, I mapped out my next ten years in a business plan. That brought into sharp focus how much work I have to do to achieve the things I want.

The best part? Now I really know what I want. I’ve got it down in black and white. My sales targets, my income targets, and concrete plans for how to achieve those things. Until I’ve implemented my ten-year plan, nothing is going to convince me it can’t be done. That’s ten doubt-free years I’ve bought myself.

That blank page in front of you is not just a blank page. It’s an opportunity. It’s step 32 of 925 in your plan. Imagine how you’ll feel when those plans succeed. Don’t just say it. Close your eyes and picture yourself with thirty published books, making X quid a month, or whatever your own goals are.

Me, I want a fulfilling job where I love the work and make a living. I want my husband to be able to retire at sixty-five and my kid to go to a decent university without a burden of debt. I know how I will feel when I achieve those things, because that is the feeling I take with me every day when I sit down to write about faeries, angels, demons, and witches. I feel that success when I see that blank screen.

Writing is hard work. But it’s work I love, and it’s work I can do. Blocked?

Sorry, don’t have time. I’m one month into a ten-year plan, and I have things to do.

About India Drummond

India Drummond’s debut novel, Ordinary Angels, is a slightly smutty urban fantasy in which Zoe Pendergraft falls in love with an angel, frees a soul from necromancers, releases a ghost trapped in the Void, and saves his living grandson from demons. It will be released April 4th, 2011 from Lyrical Press.

You can find India Drummond on Facebook, Twitter, and at her blog. Join her Facebook fan page to be notified of release dates and info about her two indie books, Blood Faerie and Haywire Witch, also coming in 2011.

15 thoughts on “The Secret Cure for Writer’s Block by India Drummond

  1. Yes, yes, yes! Hardly showing my powers of articulation here but I agree with everything you said. Forcing yourself to create separates the writer from the person who likes to write. You’ve no business whining how hard it is if you’re in the second category.

  2. I love it. I don’t believe in writer’s block either (although writer’s constipation is another story) and you have hit the nail directly on the head.Just do it. Shut up and do it. It’s not digging ditches, for Pete’s sake. Fabulous post. I’m printing it out and putting it up where I can see it every day when the Whiny Fairy pokes me with her antennae.

  3. I work full time and write full time. I don’t allow for writer’s block. I don’t have time. I set weekly goals to make deadlines. It’s the only way I can make it. My kids used to ask me if I had writer’s block and I adamantly denied that I believed in such a thing. Brainstorming, taking a break, editing once again, research, help to get me going when the scene isn’t coming.

  4. Great post, India and I agree as well. I won’t bother to reiterate what has been said so eloquently above but… to those complainers who make excuses… just fecking write already. Sheesh.:) Thanks for sharing!

  5. Awesome post, India. Very, very inspiring. I’m not much of a whiner, but needed the kick in the arse just the same. lol.The ten year plan is brilliant.Thanks for sharing!

  6. Wonderful post. I’ve never experienced writer’s block, but like you said, procrastination hits me hard at time. 🙂 A lot of it is about dedication and taking the job seriously.I don’t think many authors approach their writing as a career. People don’t tell their bosses, “I’m just not feeling it today. I’ll come in when I’ve got a little more motivation.” Yet they have no problem treating their writing career that way. :)It’s about having the right mentality.

  7. Thanks for the great comments, everyone! It was a real pleasure to take over Z’s blog for the day. I’m glad to know so many enjoyed the article.ND

  8. Great post. I’m in total agreement with you.

  9. Excellent post. I totally agree. In fact, I am physically unable to agree any more than I already do. If I were to try, I would implode.Everyone has days when they don’t want to do something. Writing is no different. Sometimes the words flow like wine and some days it’s like trying to spread jam with a wet noodle. But, if it were easy everyone would be cranking out masterpieces at a James Patterson/Stephen King mind-exploding pace, and boy would that blow goats. We are not even talking pretty goats. I mean the goats the other goats shy away from. Yep. Writing is art, but that doesn’t mean you can leave the elbow grease in the closet.

  10. Love your ‘no nonsense’ approach, India. Like you, I treat writing as a business, which means goals, timelines and organization. I’m in it for the long haul, and for that reason, it’s essential to have a plan.Artiste? Sure, but I’m damn well not going to be a starving one!

  11. Great interview! And, oh, you’re so right – plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, indeed! I’ve got to remember that next time I’m blabbing about being stuck…

  12. Writers’ Block? What’s that? No, seriously, I have moments where I stare at the text on the page and go WTF? This sucks! But then I continue to write, knowing that when I get to the revisions phase, I can give ailing text more voema because my eyes will be fresh. And, often, the words just seem blegh when I’m writing after a long day. It’s so important to first lay them on the page. They’re a framework.

  13. India is another first-class guest blogger. What a lot of sheer practical sense – a metaphorical slap for us ‘artistes’. Invigorating.

  14. Awww lovely straight talking India!! You take no prisoners especially Artistes!! LOL!!! You go girl!!!! I wish you all the very best with your writing career! Yay for you!! Thanks for hosting the wonderful India Drummond, Feckless Goblin!!! Yay! Take carex

  15. Wonderful. Can we form some sort of writers’ group to collectively poke people in the eye when they tell us that, they too would write wonderful prose if only they weren’t so damn busy being important? I’m another non-believer in Writers’ Block (I’m a sufferer, not a believer), and your straight talking is an inspiration. Right. Enough procrastination, back to the WIP…

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