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As someone who wrestles daily with writer’s block, I have come to a conclusion. It may or may not be profound, and it may not be true of everybody. But it is definitely true of me.
My writer’s block (or creative block) manifests itself in many different ways, but I believe that there is one root cause: fear.
Here’s an example, not from writing but from my other love, art. Last year, I completed a pastel portrait of my twin nephews, Nathan and Daniel. They were eight or nine years old when I began working on the painting.
They’ll begin their sophomore year in college later this month.
It took me ten years to complete a 15″ x 22″ pastel painting. Good grief! Michaelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in only a little over four years!
Why did it take me so long?
First, I didn’t think the likenesses were quite perfect. Second, I was afraid that if I continued working on the portrait, I’d only mess it up worse. And so I put the painting away and forgot about it. I was so afraid of ruining the portrait, that I hid it away rather than face the fear of failure.
As I look at my own struggles with writer’s block, I see fear.
Fear that my writing isn’t any good.
Fear that editors and publishers won’t like it.
Fear that I won’t be able to sell it.
Fear that I won’t be able to top my last book.
Fear that I’ll mess up what I’ve already done.
Fear of failure.
Fear of success. (What if I get too much writing work and I can’t stand the pressure?)
I run away from what I fear.
When I do that with my writing, it’s called writer’s block.
And writer’s block is nothing less than creative paralysis.
Join the discussion: Do you agree that the root cause of writer’s block is fear? Why or why not? What other causes would you point to.