When The Well Runs Dry

by Natasha Cyriac

Since you’re looking at this blog, I’m going to assume that you have some sort of interest in writing. Writing is a curious thing – it can break us, put us back together, and make us feel in so many different and complex ways, all with the simple power of words. This simplicity and versatility is also what makes it appealing to many of us, makes us love it and call ourselves writers.

Despite the love and passion we share for writing, we’re all different sorts of writers. Some of us make a diligent effort to write every day. Others may write infrequently. Some of us write late into the night, some of us write in the morning, and some of us write in the middle of class. Some of us write poetry, some write stories and others write about their memories. Some of us have written for years, while others are just starting to discover how much they like it.

Regardless of when you write or how well you write, anyone who does write is familiar with one thing, usually termed something like ‘Writer’s Block.’ This term usually means that a writer’s creativity has been drained and they suddenly lose any inspiration and struggle to create new works or expand on existing ones.

So what do you do when you’ve run out of ideas, of inspiration? What do you do when you have the ideas bottled up inside you – you know that they’re there – but none of it turns out right when you write it down?

Well, from the years I’ve spent attempting to improve my writing, I have found a few solutions. They’re not surefire, but they have worked most of the time and in any event, doing something is better than letting writer’s block consume you:

  • Take a break from it. Don’t look at the piece that’s giving you grief for a few days, maybe even a week. Instead, spend this time doing all the things you don’t do when you’re focused on your work. Take a break; watch movies, read new books, reread your favorite books, do something you’ve never done before. Chances are that when you sit down in a week’s time to continue your work, you’ll be refreshed enough to figure out a solution to the problem you had.
  • Write stuff, even if it’s really, really bad. It’s important not to go too long without writing anything, so if your block lasts a while, you may want to consider simply writing whatever you’re capable of at the moment. It doesn’t have to be great, or even related to any piece you’re working on. Don’t criticize what you write or try to achieve perfection; just write. Remember, you can edit and fix anything but a blank page. And nothing you write is ever wasted – it’s all just more practice.
  • Take a step back and look at the big picture. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the moment that we’re writing about that we forget that it’s simply one part of many. So maybe you need to look over your whole piece – focus on things like the plot, the point of view, the pacing. Maybe you’ll see that a certain part should come later, or be completely left out. Rework or rethink the structure of the piece, and then adjust the details to fit it.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. This idea was sort of covered in point #2, but it’s important enough to emphasize again. The thing is, even if all of us here are writers, we are all still learning. We all make mistakes and we all run into various problems and dead-ends. And so it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself and be too critical of your writing. The most important thing for a writer to do is to write, obviously, but you can’t write if you are finding fault with every word you put on the page. Criticize your writing when you’re making revisions on the piece, but while you’re writing, don’t let fear or feelings of inadequacy kill your creativity.
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