The Myth of Writer’s Block

the myth of writers block

Do you get caught up by writer’s block? Most authors and writers would say that they have, but in this guest post, author Mike Rothery shares some tips on what people consider writer’s block, how it usually isn’t writer’s block, and how to get past where you are stuck.

Remember that sparkling creativity that crackled in your veins and made you write that first book? Do you recall the first time something appeared on the page that so astonished you, you looked around to see where it came from? Or a story began writing itself as if some demon was sat on your shoulder whispering out the narrative as your fingers blurred over the keyboard to keep up?

On the other hand, how often have you stared for ages at the last line you wrote trying to think of what comes next? Or you read something by another author that was so good it rattled your self-belief?

I’m sure all writers, even our literary role models, suffer some sort of loss of motivation or feel that inspiration has deserted him or her from time to time. I certainly have, and I know it can be dreadfully debilitating.

The creative impulse is a fickle companion, and needs constant nurture if you’re to avoid the getting stuck in the groove of procrastination.

I hope the following four scenarios will help advance my argument that the term “Writer’s Block” is just a meaningless catchall to describe various negative intrusions on a writer’s workflow that can be dealt with. 

Scenario 1 (Disappointment)

You’re disappointed with your last chapter and haven’t been able to improve it. Now you’re worried that you don’t have the talent to write a good story.

Come on, you know you have the talent, you just need to get your mojo back. Take a break. Go and read something – a genre or writer you enjoy. Or have a night out with friends.

Scenario 2 (Mission Creep)

The plot of your story has suddenly become too complicated and you’re daunted by the amount of loose ends you have to tie up.

Inconsistencies are often caused by the author’s own hubris. Set aside your creative talent for a while and get technical: become the editor, not the storyteller. Once you’ve managed to detach yourself from your own writing it’s easier to see what needs changing for a more elegant narrative. Suddenly those sections you thought of as vital, those paragraphs that you considered your pearls of great literature, seem not quite so indispensable, and you will see how they are getting in the way and adding unnecessary complexity to the plot.

Scenario 3 (Roadblock)

You’re stuck for an answer to the question, “what happens next?”

This can be a real roadblock. Sit down somewhere away from your workstation with a notepad and brainstorm the options. Write down anything and everything, no matter how ridiculous. Discuss the problem with a close friend and add to your list any suggestions they make. Nine times out of ten you’ll find a good answer, but if not, then consider the possibility that you’ve driven into a cul-de-sac. It happens. Just turn around and find another route.

Scenario 4 (Perfectionist)

You can’t get going because you’re looking for that killer opening line.

Forget it, seriously, it’s just a distraction. Just start writing. Write down anything you can think of that gets the narrative started. Don’t worry if its rubbish, it probably is. The killer opener, if it’s going to happen, will do so at some point later in the chapter. Don’t even look for it this stage. When you go back later to re-read the chapter and you find the opener you want, simply delete everything before it. It might sound a bit drastic, but do try it. It usually works surprisingly well. Often you’re just pruning a lot of unnecessary preamble, making the reader work harder, and that’s never a bad thing.

Wrap Up

Above all remind yourself of that fire in your belly and the magic words that flowed from your fingertips when you wrote your first. It’s such thrilling moments that remind me why I became a story writer, and I’m sure that’s true for most novelists. But if that fire of your first novel sustained you right through until you wrote “The End”, then you were very fortunate indeed.

Inspired by the sea and travel, Mike Rothery enjoys sail cruising and exploring exotic locations. Between books there’s nothing he likes better than to crew up with a stranger on a yacht and sail across some ocean or other. He lives in Weymouth, Dorset, UK. He started writing novels in 2013, and to date he has published two full length novels and a short story. He is currently writing a fantasy thriller for release in the summer of 2015. For more information visit

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