What to Do When a Writer’s Epidemic Strikes You

Veronica Liow, A&E Editor

It is one of those days, where the weather is slightly foggy and the atmosphere is slightly gloomy. No one is messaging you nor are you messaging anyone. Reruns are playing of old classics, ones you have watched before you were introduced to the harsh world of reality. Everyone is on a break. You are on a break. There is finally a pause –a hiatus– in your crazed, busy life. You realize this is the perfect opportunity to construct a masterpiece.

You are to write a story. Whether it be short or long, you don’t know. All you know is that with your pen in one hand and paper in the other, you shall create magic. You place the pen down, letting its smooth ink pierce the paper, letting the words flow out, letting your imagination take you on a wild goose chase as you somehow maneuver your way back into reality.

But something is wrong. It’s blank. The paper is still blank. You never placed your pen onto the paper. You never let the ink ooze out. You never let the black liquid shape itself into a vomit of eloquently worded words. Never did imagination roam free within the last five minutes. Nothing is being written. Nothing is being crossed out. Nothing is being created nor is it being destroyed. And although everything —your grip on the pen, the peaceful ambiance, the crispness of the freshly bought paper— is perfect, something is quite not right. You feel yourself unable to think, unable to produce new ideas.

On a perfect day where the weather is perfect and the materials are perfect and the timing is perfect and just about everything is perfectperfectperfect, there is one aspect that is not perfect. And that is you. Your mind is not perfect. Your thoughts are not perfect. Your ideas, how they usually shape themselves so naturally into words on paper, are not perfect. What you hold in your mind, if there even is anything, cannot be executed as it once, twice, and thrice so beautifully did before.

You are sick. You are ill. You realize you have caught an epidemic, one without a cure. You have fallen prey to the very same virus that has brought down millions of potentially great writers before you: writer’s block.

Are you a writer, much like this one, with what seems like an incurable disease?  Fear not! You, my friend, have just stumbled across an article in which you shall receive tips on how to overcome writer’s block.

The best way to write when you can’t write is to stop writing. Relax. Take a break. Watch a movie. Go for a jog. But most importantly, read. Read novels. Read poems. Read anything and everything that excites you, saddens you, angers you, or even all of the above. It is important not to panic. Writer’s block can be extremely frustrating, but you’ll have to remember that it always ends. After all, every beginning has an ending, which of course leads to a new beginning. Oftentimes, the work you create after a case of writer’s block becomes the best piece you’ve ever written. Sometimes, writer’s block is needed as it serves as a stimulant for further writing –at least once you’ve figured out how to overcome it.

Still not cured? Try taking a look at Natalie Golberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Here are a few of the many inspirational quotes from Golberg:

  1. “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about.  Be willing to be split open.”

  2. “Play around. Dive into absurdity and write. Take chances. You will succeed if you are fearless of failure.”

  3. “If you’re having difficulty coming up with new ideas, then slow down. For me, slowing down has been a tremendous source of creativity. It has allowed me to open up –to know that there’s life under the earth and that I have to let it come through me in a new way. Creativity exists in the present moment. You can’t find it anywhere else.”

  4. “The aime is to burn through to first thoughts, to the place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness of the internal censor, to the place where you are writing what you mind actually sees and feels, not what it thinks it should see or feel.”

  5. “In the center of the chaos, make one definite act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write.”

I hope these tips will help lead your way to victory in this battle against writer’s block. Happy writing!