WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE WRITER'S BLOCK FLU

A Bout of Writer’s Block Flu

I know. You haven’t heard from me in a while. Unlike so many people recently, I don’t have Strain A or Strain B of the Influenza. But I have been nursing (or ignoring) a bout of a new flu. You might have heard of it? Writer’s Block Flu.

Writer’s Block Flu creeps up on you. Then, for anywhere from a day to a week to a month or maybe longer, you’re rendered mute. Nothing to say here. Nothing to write.

This time, it’s not that I haven’t been writing. I have. I’m writing a book for a client and coaching another client who’s writing her memory book. I’ve also been writing and recording content for my latest workshop/course. I’ve poured all of my mental and creative energy into those projects. It’s been an intense couple of months, but in a good way.

Writer’s Block Flu creeps up on you . . .
Nothing to say here. Nothing to write.

Stress and the Writer’s Block Flu

I think of writer’s block as an illness brought on by stress. Here are just a few factors that can create the kind of stress that leads to the Writer’s Block Flu:

1 Real life is overwhelming your capacity to think clearly and creatively. Activities such as caring for a parent or a child, tackling a home renovation, recovering from an illness, shepherding your teen through the college process, or grieving the loss of a loved one take an incredible amount of energy and focus. Sometimes, you just need to recognize what your priorities must be and set your writing aside for a period of time. Give your brain a rest and your conscience some grace.

2 The internal pressure you put on yourself can cause your Writer’s Block Flu. For example, I’ve been feeling the pressure to write something extremely profound. What can I say that will grab my audience’s attention and make people want to read more? How can I help them transform their writing, storytelling, and their family connections by leaps and bounds (overnight)? These thoughts are often the result of the comparison trap. You don’t need to compare your writing style or your memoir or your stories or even your personal history to anyone else’s. You just need to be you (and since I’m writing this for myself too, I just need to be me.) Your own authenticity will shine through, and you’ll inspire your audience in your own way.

3 Allowing your mind to expand the scope of your current effort can be an unconscious source of writing stress. If I sit down to write a simple blog post, but all of a sudden, my mind has led me from an article to an eGuide to a book and a course all in the space of ten minutes, then of course, I’m going to be stressed. The same thing might be happening to you as you write your memoir. But you (and I) really only need to write one story at a time. Stay focused.

4 The allure of perfection can stop you in your tracks. Your writing (and mine) will never be perfect. It might seem like the plethora of bloggers and your friends who post on social media have it all together, but they don’t. They get the Writer’s Block Flu too; they just don’t tell you about it.

Don’t sacrifice the good for the perfect. Your family and the world need to hear what you have to say.

Don’t sacrifice the good for the perfect. Your family and the world need to hear what you have to say.

A Few Writer’s Block Flu Home Remedies

Disconnect to Connect

Your brain might just need space before you can reconnect with your ideas, your memories, your wisdom, and your stories. Try some of these disconnecting suggestions:

  • Go to the beach
  • Take a walk or a hike
  • Take a bath
  • Go for a massage
  • Paint
  • Play!
  • Pray and/or meditate
  • Rest

Change It Up a Bit

Sometimes, you just need to change things up to snap yourself out of it. Try writing in another room in your home, a coffee shop, a park, or a library. Try handwriting instead of typing or dictate into a recorder for a while. You can transcribe once you have some ideas off the tip of your tongue. A change of scenery or a new process might just do the trick.

Back to Basics

Go back to the basic techniques you know work for you or take some time to learn a new technique. I’ve been teaching my students mindset, memory recall, and writing techniques in the new workshop/course I’m developing. In order to write this post, I went back to my own basics. I drew a mind map for Writer’s Block, and then, perused Unsplash.com for a few minutes looking for a photo that inspired me.

A Promised Routine

Maybe you just need to get back to a routine. Promise yourself that you’ll sit down at the same time every day and write a specific number of words before you can move on with the rest of your day. It doesn’t matter what you write. Just write something.

Writer’s block takes the fun out of writing, and I always want writing your memoir to be a fun experience.

Immunize Yourself from the Writer’s Block Flu

Writer’s block takes the fun out of writing, and I always want writing your memoir to be a fun experience. I say that writing your memoir will take effort, but I don’t want it to feel like work. You’ve worked (or maybe you’re still working) long and hard enough already.

Once you’ve recovered from your bout of Writer’s Block Flu, give yourself some grace. Then, go back and look at which factors might have caused your blocks to reappear. Be mindful of those stressors in the future and adjust your writing plans as much as you can.

In my case, I’ll try to write a few articles before I develop my next course. Maybe you’ll need to add some extra writing time to your schedule before you host visitors for a week or maybe you’ll read a daily set of affirmations that remind you your story is your own and you don’t need to impress anyone (And here we go again! . . . Do you see what I just did there? I unconsciously expanded my scope. Now, I want to go write a set of affirmations for you to use during your writing process! But that post or course or free download will need to wait for another day.)

 

‘Til next time . . .

Blessings,

Michelle

Want to learn more about saving your life story?
Check out my Life Story School!

Disclaimer

This publication is based upon personal experience, research, and education. Although the author has made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this article, the author and Sunday Dinner Stories assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or inaccurate information. For privacy reasons, some names may have been changed or omitted. The content is not intended to replace common sense, legal, medical, or other professional advice; it is meant to encourage, inspire, educate, and inform the reader. That means you should consult with your attorney, doctors, and other professionals if you have any concern about implementing our advice. But we hope you'll consider us your memoir professionals and will consult us for all your storytelling needs!

Copyright

© 2020 Michelle Beckman, Sunday Dinner Stories, All rights reserved internationally.
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12 thoughts on “What to Do When You Have Writer’s Block Flu”

  1. Writers block flu made me chuckle.

    I’ve used many of the disconnect to connect tips you mentioned and they work great! It seems strange to say “go to the beach” to help clear writers block, but it totally works.

    I love your reminder to give myself some grace. Grace is much needed in the writing process. I’ve found it way more effective than beating myself up.

    Thank you for your work supporting us writers!

    Reply
    • Honestly, Writer’s Block Flu made me chuckle too. I started out just writing about writer’s block, but during the mind mapping process, the word flu wrote itself on my paper. I just went with it, and it seems to be a good way to remember that writer’s block is temporary, (usually) preventable, and treatable. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  2. Thank you for that excellent article. I can so relate to all of the stressors. For many years I have been creating weekly sermons, and there were many times when there was just too much else going on for me to really focus on what needed to be said. However, it still had to be done. There was a lot of benefit in that weekly routine. I learned discipline in so many ways. Now I do not have that pressure, but I am writing in other ways. Thank you for all that you have added to my tool bag of tricks to help with writing.

    Reply
    • Hi Joanne, I have often listened to my pastors and wondered how they can develop weekly sermons with ease. It really IS a discipline, isn’t it. I’m glad that the article gave you a few tricks for your writing tool bag. What are you writing these days?

      Reply
  3. This is exactly what I needed to read today. I go through this from time to time. I’m going to save this article to reread over as a good reminder of steps to take to shake off the ‘writer’s block flu’.

    Thank you!!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad this article helped you, Elda! I think I’ll need to remind myself to read it frequently as well. It’s so easy to come down with the Writer’s Block Flu.

      Reply
  4. What a fabulous term “writer’s block flu” – and what great suggestions for its “treatment.” I find the switching things up invitation to be on eof the most helpful for me, but I think what you describe as grace is critically important for me as well. Often when I’ve had an extended writing break I end up feeling paralyzed. It’s as though I now have so much to say I have no idea where to begin. Gentleness and self-compassion go a far way in soothing that demon for me.

    Reply
    • I can appreciate the paralyzed feeling, Deborah! Such a great word for it. I think there’s a delicate mix between holding ourselves accountable and giving ourselves grace. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Reply
  5. I can definitely relate to Writer’s Block Flu for many of the reasons you shared. I had a major life transition and lost several loved ones over the last year. It did take a lot of emotional energy. Besides that, I too thought I needed to share something profound. Thank you for reminding me that authenticity is more important than perfection and to extend grace to myself.

    Reply
    • Hi Barb, I’m so glad this piece helped you. Authenticity is much more important. I’m so sorry for your loss. That’s definitely a time to take a mental break filled with grace.

      Reply

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