Almost every time I do a consultation with a new client, it’s a writer who is absolutely sure they know what their problem is. Much of the time they tell me they need to learn “craft and structure.” Sometimes they say they need to take more classes or read more books on writing. Frequently I hear that they just need to be “better,” with all the vague intention that implies.
But one thing is always the same. They are paralyzed, stuck, frustrated, and feeling hopeless and sad about their writing.
Writer’s block comes in many different forms, but two of the most common types are procrastination and perfectionism. All writers struggle with one or both at some time during their writing life, but some writers struggle more than most, to the point where one or both of these conditions feels utterly paralyzing and the writer never finishes (or even starts) any creative project, ever.
For the writers who struggle with severe procrastination, or severe perfectionism, they also experience a sickening feeling of shame that accompanies the writer’s block that’s causing them so much trouble. They assume that they’re not motivated enough, or that they need to try harder, or “just get over it.” However, if the procrastination or perfectionism is of the severe type (and not just experienced occasionally or fleetingly), then the roots of the block go much deeper than most writers suspect.
In my last article, The 3 Biggest Self-Sabotage Traps for Writers, I talked about some of the most damaging mindsets for writers, and how when we adopt these mindsets and use them as “writing goals” we always end up defeated in the end. However, there is another, much worse, approach that writers can take in the attempt to become a successful writer.
And sadly, I see writers do it all the time.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginning writer, or have been writing for many years, if you do this one thing, your writing life is sure to fail. You will feel blocked, empty, stuck, and hopeless about your writing. The one thing—that’s the worst thing you could do—is this: