Last weekend I attended GenCon, which is a gaming convention held in Indianapolis. While most of the goings on revolved around board games and RPGs, numerous authors attended the con, offering their insights during panels. I spent most of my time at these panels, learning more about the craft of writing. My general takeaway was that I didn’t learn much new information, but by being inundated with information, my motivation was sparked.
The panel on writers’ block was especially interesting. Most of the panelists agreed that the condition, defined by the inability to work due to lack of inspiration, does not, in fact, exist in the way we think it does. And in many ways, I agree. Here’s why:
Inspiration is not necessary
Perhaps the most important point the panelists made was that you don’t need to be struck by the muses to write. The craft of creation is hard. It’s work. Don’t be tricked into thinking you’re some conduit between the page and the gods. There will be days when you don’t feel like writing, but you must slough through them. Being a creative person isn’t easy, and to believe that you must be inspired to produce is false. In fact, it can stunt your growth as an artist and ruin your progress.
Your characters don’t have to tell you what to do – you’re the writer, so you make the decisions! Isn’t that empowering?
Writing happens when it must
I know you don’t need some magical motivation – my job is proof of it. I have to produce about 4,100 words a day at my job as a content creator. I have the periods between nine and five to do that, and believe you me, I don’t want to work more than that. If I required inspiration to complete my daily allocation, I would be out of a job. I am able to write a lot because I must. That’s motivation enough for me.
You can bring that attitude to creative writing as well. Look for outside influences to keep you moving through the parts of the story that are boring to write. For instance, some of the panelists gave themselves rewards for finishing x-amount of words (my reword for finishing 4,100 words is leaving the office).
What blocks really are
The cryptic “writers’ block” is likely something you created, which makes it real enough. You could be stressed about not knowing where to move the plot. You could be traumatized by a seemingly impossible deadline. Know that by psyching yourself out, you only make the inability to put words down more potent. Try to relieve the pressure in whatever way you can, then sit down and get to it! While that’s easier said than done, you can practice at pushing yourself.