(I love this picture. I don’t know who is the author but they are a genius.)
One of the first posts that I’ve written on Always Inspired Writing was 10 root causes for writer’s block and lessons you must learn. Today, I’m back with 6 more causes – and steps that you can take to help yourself. If you haven’t read the first article yet, please do it now – it might be that the cause for your writer’s block was already described in the first article.
- You feel discouraged after receiving several negative reviews
- You are giving the editor too much power over your writing
- You’ve learned to rely too much on your ghost writer
- Your marketing attempts keep failing and you keep losing money, time, patience and inspiration.
- You are tired of writing about the same things over and over again.
- Your vocabulary isn’t inspiring you, yet you don’t have time to read novels and fish for new words
Now, let’s get into these causes in detail.
CAUSE #1 – You feel discouraged after receiving several negative reviews
It sucks, doesn’t it? You’ve been toiling over that one novel for months, maybe even years, and an ungrateful reader comes and writes a one star review, which affects your sales, your opinion and your self-esteem. One bad review can make one feel moderately annoyed, but what if you get one negative review after another, even though your book is really perfect? You start looking at your target audience and wondering, what do these people actually want?
You feel unappreciated and don’t want to write. And that, my friend, is super normal. If you had a friend who was an actor, and they got booed each time they got on stage, and one day just called you and said they wanted to throw the towel, would you consider it strange? Probably not.
To be honest, I’m starting to think that the negative reviews which plague indie authors are some sort of baptism of fire. Nowadays, everyone who’s 18 years old and has a computer connected to the internet can publish their own story. Readers know about it. They don’t trust the newbie writer, and if they don’t like something in your book, they aren’t going to give it a second thought. “I didn’t like it, you’re a nobody anyways so people can’t tell me I’m wrong about you. One star, ciao.” The reader has no idea that you’ve been working on your craft for 10 or more years and that your hard drive has more than 1GB text files. For them, you are living somewhere in cloud cuckoo land and now nothing about writing.
I’ve noticed that the game changes when you publish more books. Authors who are swimming for a longer time in a sea of books are doing much better. They have more reviews, more fans and are easier to Google.
Give yourself time. Let your books hang online, offer free copies to everyone that’s interested, sign up for different review sites (even the ones that have free spots in 8 months, like Hidden Gems), and be patient. While you work on your newest books, the older books will gradually get more and more reviews, also positive ones. Sometimes, it might take years. But late is better than never.
CAUSE #2 – You are giving the editor too much power over your writing
The longer I’m in the writing world, the more I notice something that alarms me: writers, especially the ones who are just starting out, tend to give their editors too much power over their writing. Examples of this behavior include:
- Allowing the editor to rewrite the majority of your sentences;
- Allowing the editor to make you rewrite the majority of your sentences;
- Allowing the editor to choose which scenes will and won’t be deleted;
- Allowing the editor to restructure your story according to their ideas;
- Allowing the editor to change the main message of your novel;
- Allowing the editor to alter your characters’ personalities;
etc. In general, if your writing doesn’t feel yours after it returns from an editor, or you feel like the editor is interfering too much with your text, then you’re probably giving them too much power. Which will make you feel upset with yourself and your writing, and get writer’s block.
- Take a step back and ask yourself, if you really need developmental editing. If you don’t know how to answer this question, find another editor that you can trust and ask them to take a look at your text. It might turn out that your writing really is ok and all it needs are small grammar changes or interpunction corrections. Once you know what you need, reconsider working with your first editor.
- If you choose to quit, ask yourself what impact they had on your writing and whether you still want to write according to all their rules. Keep in mind that those rules are probably the things that is causing writer’s block – and letting yourself become free of them might help you out of it.
- If you choose to keep working with your editor, set clear boundaries on what they can, and can’t do with your text – and when you’re writing, try to forget about what they will say, instead, focus on what you have to say.
CAUSE #3 – You’ve learned to rely too much on your ghost writer
I personally think that all authors should have a trusted ghost writer, just like they have a trusted editor. Sometimes, you just run out of steam, and the novel has to be finished, or there are marketing materials you need to prepare, yet don’t have time for that. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a ghost writer’s help – the problem starts, when you become ready to pay any sum of money to get the text written, because you just can’t write anything yourself. Such acute writer’s block is often a mix of several causes, and relying on the ghost writer is only amplifying the feeling that you can’t write.
I’ve heard that baby elephants tied to tree trunks become so used to being weaker than the tree, that even when they become adult elephants, they still don’t try to get free. Subconsciousness is stronger than consciousness and if you’ve been repeating to yourself I can’t, I can’t, I can’t for weeks, or maybe even months, you know where you are. The truth isn’t, you can’t. The truth is, you think you can’t. And what if you think you can? Talking yourself into being able to do something when the thought I can’t is so strong that it seems to be the ultimate truth, is not easy. I know. But there are ways to change that, and the best one is writing affirmations. Affirmations work wonders. It’s not about attracting things through the Law Of Attraction, it’s about reprogramming your subconsciousness so that it works in favor of you.
Here are three affirmations for you to start:
- I can easily write down everything that’s in my head.
- I love every single sentence I write.
- I enjoy sitting down and writing my novels.
CAUSE #4 – Your marketing attempts keep failing and you keep losing money, time, patience and inspiration.
When you’ve been putting your time, effort and money into growing your author brand for years (it usually takes years before reaching this type of burnout), and the results aren’t satisfactory, you start asking yourself, what’s the point?
You know now, that writing isn’t the fastest way of gaining popularity or learning tons of money. Which is the reason why so many authors decide to leave writing as their side hobby. You can either do that, or embark on learning new marketing strategies that will give you better results. Hopefully, when you rest – or see better results – it will motivate you to push further.
CAUSE #5 – You are tired of writing about the same things over and over again.
If someone asks me to describe a Sunday afternoon with two best friends at the ice cream parlor, I’ll scream. I’ve written it so many times already, and yet, I find myself needing this type scene over and over again in all my stories. So, I force myself to write it, then I get writer’s block, because it’s boring, and then I get angry and frustrated because it’s such a simple task, yet I can’t complete it.
If this situation rings a bell, then you are in the right place cause the solution is below:
- Identify the reason why you keep writing that scene over and over again. What do you need it for? In my own case, the ice-cream parlor represents a perfect place to let the characters quietly discuss everything that’s bothering them and think about the future. When I focus on this goal, I can suddenly find tons of places that can easily replace the ice-cream parlor. And using those places instead is making everything more interesting, as it gives you room to complete the goal of the scene, yet it also allows you to be creative!
- If it’s about a certain character type that that keeps coming back to you, check out this article: The phenomenon of the reincarnating character: when your characters are all the same. If you are decided to get rid of all reincarnating characters, read this: How to remove characters from plot (without killing them)
- Write a huge list of things that you’d like to write about, yet you never tried it. Try to make this list have at least 50 or even 100 ideas. Writing about something new will definitely spark up your creativity!
CAUSE #6 – Your vocabulary isn’t inspiring you, yet you don’t have time to read novels and fish for new words.
This can happen especially when you write in another language, and although annoying, it can be fixed rather fast.
- Start using a random word generator. This one is my favorite so far. It allows you to discover words you didn’t even know existed. I recommend writing them down for later. When you feel particularly uninspired, just open the list and try to use the new words in your text. It will work wonders!
- Switch to reading poetry. Poems are short and you can read tons of them in one sitting – and, most importantly, they are all about beautiful language, unlike prose, which focuses on plot mostly. My favorite place to read poetry for free is PoemHunter.com.
I hope this helps!