Writing retreat

Writer’s Block is All About Letting Go

Sometimes, it’s really difficult for me to actually sit down and write a blog post. If you are a regular reader (is anyone out there?), you might have noticed this. I aim to post on Mondays every week — some weeks that doesn’t happen. Last week, for example,I posted on Wednesday. The week before — not at all. When this happens, the most likely culprit is a case of writer’s block. Sometimes I sit down to write a post on a Sunday or a Monday and I just can’t come up with anything to say. I stare at the computer for awhile, and eventually give up and scroll through social media instead of working.

I do have a trick to get past this, but somehow I tend to forget it. I came up with this trick way back in college, when I was up in the middle of the night trying to write term papers. And I mean, maybe it’s not surprising that I forget it — because it isn’t easy. But it is pretty simple – I just write.

When I find myself completely and utterly stuck, whether that is with an essay, a short story, or my novel, I find the best way to get to the other side of some serious writers’ block is to let go of expectations.  I have to give up on trying to write anything good. I have to completely surrender to the fact that the thing I am trying to write might be utter and complete nonsense, and also that there is a possibility that I will get to the end, look over it, highlight everything, and hit delete.

If I don’t let go of the idea of perfection, I cannot get myself to move forward. I become obsessed with every single word to the point that I can’t even put sentences together because I am so worried about how good they are.

But if I let go, if I truly let go, if I just tell myself to write whatever comes to mind and stop worrying about sentence structure and whether or not I sound intelligent, that’s when I can move forward. That’s when I can finally get the words down on paper.

I have taken multiple six-month breaks off from my novel at this point and the truth is, most of that time has been spent worrying about whether or not the novel will be great, big picture. What I need to do is let go of that need to impress my future reader (who does not even exist yet). I need to put the book back together piece by piece, page by page, and stop worrying about whether or not it will be finished when I get back to the end.

When I release control, most of the time the end result is something that I like a lot more than I expected I would. Every once in awhile, what I’ve written is garbage, and I do hit the delete key and start all over again. But most of the time, I keep the words, I edit them, I feel satisfied that I actually am working.

If I can find that same space of freedom, that same space of letting go of what everyone else thinks, that’s always the way that I can move forward. That’s always how I can get things done.

And that’s how I’ve written this blog post, possible nonsense from end to beginning. And of course, I have edited it. I always do. But if I had sat down at my computer yesterday and told myself I needed to write and post the perfect blog post — guess what. This wouldn’t have been written. Not even one word of it.

So maybe the solution to writer’s block is letting go. At least, I think it is for me.