On writer’s block

I’ve been stuck lately. The initial sprint of inspiration and motivation that accompanies a fresh new idea faded around midsummer. I was left staring at a first draft that I had barely started – I was less than 10,000 words in – and I was just…stuck. I try not to fall into the “only write when inspiration strikes” camp (I’m too type A to go with the flow like that), so I tried to power through. I would sit at my computer, open the Word doc, scroll down to the dreaded blank page and….nothing. I was empty. You know that feeling, when you seem to forget all words? When you want to yell at your brain “how did you forget the entire English language?? You knew it a minute ago!”

After the fourth or fifth time of repeating this exercise with a scant 300 words to show for it, the impostor syndrome kicked in. To be fair, the impostor syndrome guy is there all the time. I picture him as a sleazy, middle-aged guy in a suit, with a thick Brooklyn accent, who only stops talking on his cellphone long enough to shout “give up! you suck!” at me, from his perch on my shoulder.

But this was different. This wasn’t the usual self doubt that comes with low self-esteem and a buttload of anxiety. This was a much louder voice saying “what makes you think you can be a writer? You’ve wanted to your whole life, but have you really done it? Do you eat, sleep and breathe writing? No? See – you don’t have what it takes, just give up now.”

Needless to say, that voice didn’t exactly help my productivity. And I had about a month (most of August) where I didn’t write a word. And every day that I didn’t write felt like another strike, and it just got harder and harder to come back.

The good news is, I got out of this slump (quite recently.) I completely restructured how I was handling the timeline in my book, and that knocked something loose in my brain that made everything look more manageable. So this episode of writer’s block had a happy ending, for which I’m grateful.

Of course, it wasn’t the first time I had writer’s block, nor will it be the last. And I haven’t figured out how to silence that car salesman-esque voice that wants me to quit. In the meantime though, I’m riding this inspiration wave for as long as I can.

How have you dealt with writing and impostor syndrome? Am I the only one with an angry Brooklyn-ite in my head?

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