Worrying about writer's block

Are You Dealing With Writer’s Block — Or Is It Just Normal Downtime?

Writer’s block is lousy when it happens, but most of the time it’s either mild or moderate, and given time, it will usually solve itself.

Severe writer’s block is a more worrying creative block, because it can sometimes be very long term, or even permanent. But you likely don’t have that, so don’t worry about it.

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One of the things that makes writer’s block worse is, in fact, the worrying about it, and it creates a self-fullfilling prophecy. A typical scenario goes like this:

  1. You have a day when writing is unproductive.
  2. You worry that you’re being unproductive.
  3. You wonder how long you’ll be unproductive.
  4. The worry you’re feeling interferes with your ability to be creative, and so your creative block deepens.

But here’s the most important bit: the human mind goes through fairly regular cycles of being creative and non-creative. It’s not common to be able to churn out musical ideas at will without some need for downtime.

The fact that creativity is cyclical is important to know, and it’s an important part of defeating writer’s block. If you’re currently finding it hard to create musical ideas, you should assume that this is a perfectly normal condition, and you should divert your musical attention elsewhere for the day (or a few days).

If you make the assumption that your brain will cycle between being creative and being less so, you’ll have a better chance at avoiding excessive worry when you suddenly feel that your songwriting has ground to a halt. It’s normal. You’re on a downtime, so relax and engage your creative mind in some other activity.

And don’t automatically jump to calling it writer’s block. One of the benefits of having other musical activities you can engage in is that you don’t even get to the point where you’re excessively worrying about your writing stoppage — you’re now writing poetry, or you’re doing technical exercises on your guitar or keyboard, or you’re editing/producing songs you’ve already written.

It’s the worry that’s the worst part of a creative block. Worry is what deepens it, and it’s what makes you doubt yourself and your abilities.

The sooner you see this bout of songwriting non-creativity as simply normal downtime, the better.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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