Blocked

The daily prompt from a few days back asked:

“When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about—and how did you dig your way out of it?”

When I was little, I loved making up stories. I didn’t always write them down, but whenever I’d play by myself, it usually involved making up a story. Eventually I started writing actual fiction. I didn’t show very many of them to anyone. But the ones I did share were usually received well.

But as time went on I wrote less and less fiction. Mostly because every time I tried to, I’d feel so blocked I couldn’t go on. I’d get a scene or two written down, and then…nothing. I’d try. I’d really try. I’ve collected a whole pile of books about writing—short story writing, novel writing, screenwriting, playwriting, journaling—you name it, I probably have a book about it on the shelf somewhere. I’d try the exercises in each book. Nothing would stick.

Nowadays I freelance for a couple of content-writing sites. I’ve had success that way. I won’t say I never feel blocked when I’m doing content writing — but it happens a lot less often. Something about being handed a topic, a couple of keywords, and a short deadline seems to break through any blocks.

It also helps that at a content mill, my name isn’t on anything that’s published. I seem to write much more freely with anonymity. And content writing isn’t personal.

The first exercise in one of the books I have is to list your fears. Before you ever start your story, list all of the reasons you’re afraid to write it. That exercise was a huge insight for me. It helped me see that part of what hinders my fiction writing is that fiction is so personal. The fear is usually what creates a block.

Even making this blog public was hard for me, since these pieces are personal, too.

I do still have stories in mind. I hope I’ll soon be able to break through the block and write them down.

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