For me, writer’s block is usually a product of stress and exhaustion. Usually it comes when I’ve taken on a lot of projects and haven’t had time to step back and look at the larger picture. With nonfiction I already know the whole story, and the question is how to tell it and which points are the most important. If I get lost it’s that I get lost in the logistics and my own doubts.
So how do I get past writer’s block? Generally I either switch to a different project for a few days and write less for a few days while feeding other parts of my psyche. I’ll take a few walks, go hang out with friends, spend extra time lost in a good book, or wander over to a museum. All are methods that work. Usually, if it’s a block rooted in logistics, a few days of shaking up the routine will dissolve the problem.
Blocks coming from my own doubts, however, are a lot more difficult to deal with. That’s when I have to take a few days where the most I write is a few paragraphs of notes and maybe a page of cathartic whinging. Usually I return to the place where I know writing is a craft and skill with which most people have to accrue lots of practice before the kinks are worked out. Sometimes it takes a lot longer and I have to wander farther away before I find my way back. Writing isn’t easy, and anyone who thinks it is either isn’t a writer or is one of the rare few who either has a direct line to the muse or who is lying through his or her teeth for the cool factor.
Writing can be a lonely process, so having other people who have struggled with the same things is always helpful. I’m fortunate to have so many people around me who get it. National Novel Writing Month is the best thing ever for connecting with other
crazy people — I mean, writers.
Which reminds me, if I start flirting with the idea of participating in NaNoWriMo this year in any more time consuming sense than attending write-ins to work on my thesis, please talk some sense into me. It’s addictive, NaNoWriMo is, and this year I can’t afford to indulge my addiction.