Is This Writer’s Block?

I’ve Hit the Wall

I’ve hit a wall with my writing. Somehow I feel empty, as though the creative well has run dry. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally finished my novel and am in the revision stage—the hardest stage for me I’ve discovered. Maybe it’s because we went on a wonderful vacation to Norway which I’ve been uninspired to write about, or because I brought home a horrible cold which turned into bronchitis and am still recovering. Maybe it’s because I will be teaching again in the fall and my mind has already turned to what I will have to teach rather than turning inward to my creative inner world. Whatever the reason, I feel lost, like a part of my soul is missing.

After the past year of being unemployed I had the utter luxury of spending every day for as long as I needed or wanted to work on my manuscript. I know others write in the wee hours after their families are in bed. Still others write early in the morning before their families get up, but I have had the complete fantasy writing gig of getting my husband off to work, walking the dog or running, then coming home to spend all afternoon writing. At times I’m embarrassed I only finished a novel, but I know how lucky I’ve been.


I’m writing this post for help! What words of wisdom do my fellow writers have for me concerning revision? What can I do to prime the pump and feel the richness of my imagination flowing forth again? How can I set up a new routine in the midst of working a demanding teaching job; where can I carve out those moments I need to survive?

With only a month left before I go back to the classroom, I want to accomplish as much as possible. I’ve decided to come up with a pretty regimented schedule which will include free writing and also beginning a new project. Revision is rewarding. I can finally see the whole picture and understand what must be changed and moved and tweaked and refined, but spilling a first draft onto the page is different. I miss being wrapped and rapt in the creative vision.

The Plan

Here’s the plan I’ve set forth for now to overcome my creative paralysis. If you have suggestions, please tell me. If you have words of wisdom, please let me know.

  1. Begin the writing day with free writing exercise or prompt for 10-20 minutes a day. I have to do something to prime the pump!
  2. Revise my novel for at least one hour/day, more if the work is going well, which I hope will be most days.
  3. Work on queries and synopsis for one hour per day.
  4. Work on social media for one hour per day to promote my author platform.
  5. Work on my blog one hour /day.

I need to crush this wall before it crushes me, so I’m putting this plan into action for now.  I’ll adjust if the writing or revising is going poorly or well, but I do want to accomplish my goals for this year. What routines have you come up with that help nurture your writing in the midst of chaos, a job, or the demands of life?

6 responses to “Is This Writer’s Block?”

  1. I’d say the ideas you have with writing exercises works; but I’d suggest something a little more radical.

    All your suggestions have to do with writing. It sounds counter-intuitive, but have you considered doing something outside of that box to nurture your creativity? Could be as simple as taking up a visual art, or music, or maybe exercise of some sort.

    Sticking with one task relentlessly can lead to tunnel vision, and that tunnel vision starts to cramp your creativity.

    • I like the way you think! I hadn’t thought of that simply because I feel a time crunch for accomplishing my plans, but it is totally self-imposed. I can see how focusing on a different “art” might work. Now I just have to determine what I might like to try. I used to do a lot of drawing. Maybe that would help…

  2. something that helps me – and i am a novice, no novel under my belt – i do a couple of things – i go through old journals – i do most of my early writing by hand – and i find stories and ideas i abandoned that seem new and different and exciting to me, so i build on them. the other thing i do is i allow myself only to write poetry – i get graph paper or unlined paper and i scribble – i use crayons or colored flair pens and i write unchecked. slaps me out of writers block, if only temporarily. don’t be so hard on yourself. i was feeling very defeatist tonight and i was sitting out back and just before dusk i noticed the pattern of bats high in the trees – like it was too light and too early for them to fly lower. they flew in almost a pattern. and watching them – there were three – made me come in and want to write.

    • Katie, I love what you described about the bats. I do find that nature helps a lot with creativity and usually inspires me. I like your other ideas especially using crayons and writing only poetry. I’m not very good at poetry, but maybe that’s the trick of getting out of the rut! And I will try not to be so hard on myself. I do forget sometimes to have fun with my writing, but I watched a talk by Ray Bradbury that Mark O’Brien sent to me on Facebook. In the talk he said if you’re not having fun, then you shouldn’t be writing. I am going to enjoy this journey from now on, no matter what. Despite having a novel under my belt, I am still very much a novice and felt my writing time slipping away with the prospect of being in the classroom again. I am trying to look at my time differently now. Thanks for your wonderful encouraging words!

  3. Your plan looks great and I wish I had the self-discipline to be able to follow one like you do. Most of my writing is more technical in nature and involves a lot of research, which means reading a lot before I actually write something. After poring over academic journals and researching facts, I find that I get stuck with so much information that I want to share that I’m stuck. What I found to be helpful is to do a little reading that is totally off topic, a history book or some science fiction. Then, after a short break, I find it a little bit easier to put thoughts onto paper.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Ed! So far, the free writing thing has really helped. Even my revision seems to be going better, which is really what I was struggling with the most. I think it’s like you said with reading something that has nothing to do with the project you’re working on. It helps focus the mind somewhere else for a while.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: