If There’s No Such Thing As Writer’s Block, Why Can’t I Write?

2 min read

Writer's Block Struggle from The Girl Next Door is Black

I’ve struggled with a major case of writer’s block for several months now. Whatever past invisible force moved me to put fingers to keypad appears to have gone on a vacation. In my quest to bring it back from the beach or whatever safari it’s on, I’ve read several posts by other bloggers and writers who struggle with the same blockage. More than a few are adamant that there’s no such thing as writer’s block.”

If that’s the case, then why is it that each post I crank out lately seems to take me eons to produce? Sometimes I’ll write one sentence, proclaim it “garbage” or not something I can create a post around and there it sits, another unfinished draft.

I understand that writer’s block isn’t just about the seeming inability to write or lacking ideas. There are often underlying reasons for why the words won’t come out.

I believe the problem began once I transitioned from blogging as a hobby to blogging for income.

I resisted monetizing my blog for the longest time despite the fact that several people encouraged me to do so:

“Your blog is great, you should try to make money from it. More people should read what you write!”

“You’re a great writer; you could write a book!”

I demurred for nearly two years, explaining that I enjoy writing as a hobby and don’t want to ruin the fun of it by adding monetary pressure to the mix.

It’s a legitimate concern for me. Back when I was pursuing an acting career, I took classes on different types of method acting, on succeeding in commercial auditions and learning to cold read, among others. It seemed as though the more I learned about the business side of acting and the more I deconstructed acting into a series of methods and it became more about mechanics than the joy of performing, the less pleasurable I found it. Acting used to make me feel alive. I loved losing myself in a character and fed off the energy of delighted audiences. The contentment and sense of liberation I once derived from entertaining, dissipated until I didn’t enjoy it anymore. Once you no longer enjoy acting, putting up with the business of Hollywood shenanigans hardly seems worth it.

Last summer, after getting laid off from my job at Fancy Startup from hell, I knew I had to make a change. I’d spent years agonizing over what my “passion” is. What could I do that’s truly enjoyable, will generate enough income for me to live on (including travel) and not require me to work in the confines of an office – which I’ve never liked – living for the weekend, serving as a lackey to other people’s whims, goals, values and deadlines, along with the accompanying stress, all to make some rich guy richer. One day the proverbial lightbulb appeared and I thought, “Duh, Keisha. Your blog! You do it for free and you love it, why not turn it into something?” Work for myself, you say, self? Yes! Sign me up!

Typewriter w/Crumpled Paper - Writer's Block  from The Girl Next Door is Black

Things went swimmingly until I began to care more about things like traffic stats, comments, social media following and writing the best headlines to get attention. Everything I read and researched in an attempt to help my new business grow, seemed to make me feel more inadequate as a blogger and writer. Am I actually going to make it at this?

Now when I think of what to write, these are some of the thoughts that cycle through my head:

“But, how will I write an intro that hooks readers?”

“Is anyone going to care about this?”

“What is my point? People come to my blog for thought-provoking reads; this post has no point. It’s fluffy.”

“That’s not funny enough. People expect me to be funny.”

“This would make for an excellent blog post, but x person and y person might be offended that I chose to write about this and not that.”

“Passive voice is bad. I have to reconstruct that sentence. Argh!”

“If you want blogging success, you have to write x number of posts a week.”

Each of these notions fill me with apprehension and dampen my desire to write.

It doesn’t help that I’m an overachiever with high standards for work quality.

I want my writing mojo back! Come back my friend! Return to me!

Do you believe in writer’s block? Have you experienced writer’s block; if so, how have you worked through it?

45 Comments
  • Janet Burns
    April 1, 2015

    I never liked to write and yet was told that I was a good writer. I never wrote anything fiction. I fled into the world of math and computers only to be promoted into project management and analysis, which is WRITING. When I retired, for fun I took a writing class from Al Martinez. I did not think I would have to write. I was going to listen to his words of wisdom on his writing career. Not so. The class was full of real published writers and others who wanted to be. So I wrote and wrote and wrote for a while. It was a lot of work, but it was fun, too. Congratulations on your blog and your bravery. I love your writing and your stories!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      April 2, 2015

      You ARE a good writer and you have such rich stories to share. The Al Martinez course sounds like an incredible experience. I didn’t realize he passed away this year. What a talent he had.

      Thank you for being so supportive and reading my musings. 🙂

  • Christie
    March 26, 2015

    I had writers block this morning! Thanks for sharing this awesome post at Totally Terrific Tuesday Link Party. If you haven’t linked up this week, be sure to stop by. The party is still going on! Enjoy the rest of your week!
    Christie ~ Sparkles of Sunshine

  • Adelynn Lovellette
    March 23, 2015

    That’s me whenever I had to write essays for classes.

  • Jenny Pearson
    March 22, 2015

    Great post! Yes, writer’s block exists. If it didn’t we wouldn’t be talking about it.

    It exists because we have two brains, the left and the right. The block comes when the left (dominant) won’t let the right brain out to play. In right brain mode we don’t think, we feel. When we feel we write from a point of truth of character.

    However, lefty doesn’t like the right having control, so it tries to shut down the free flow fun coming from the right and imposes the thinking, analyzing, planning, calculating modes which then drown out our fires of passion the right brain produces.

    The cure… disengage the left. It takes practice but can be done. I’ve been doing a daily 15 min photo prompt free write exercise. I started Jan 1st, by late Jan the left brain was causing me doubts and anxiety, I was starting to think about what I was seeing, but I persevered and by early Feb I was in a place of freedom.

    Every time a photo comes up (I select one at random from my collection) I tell myself to “feel” the photo, not “think” the photo.

    It is amazing. Truly amazing what lies deep in the right brain, but is constantly stifled by our dominant logical left.

    I wish you good luck with finding the freedom the right brain offers.

    Cheers, Jenny

  • Jenny Evans
    March 22, 2015

    Yes. Everything you just said. Whenever you write for any reason other than pure enjoyment, I think writer’s block occasionally hits you because you’re beholden to those constituencies (real ones or just in your head!)

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      June 10, 2015

      I missed replying to your comment somehow, Jenny. What you said it entirely true. The constituencies in our head can really be a pain in the —- 😉

  • Heidi Miner
    March 22, 2015

    Come to Europe this summer and we will make lots of new stories… you’ll not have any problems writing about them when they are so recent in your mind. 🙂

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 22, 2015

      Haha. I’m really shooting for Asia this year. I keep wanting to go and the last two years have ended up in Europe instead.

      Of course, if I get to the point where I can get my trips sponsored, I’ll have more options. 🙂

  • B.Brittain-Marshall (@ritewhileucan)
    March 21, 2015

    Keisha, your post spoke to some of same questions I ask myself on a daily basis (and it appears we are not alone). I try to adopt the philosophy “Write/blog like no one is watching.” This is actually easier said than done, but what it has given me is freedom. Freedom to speak with my own voice, freedom to enjoy the whole blogging thing, freedom to take a break if I need it. Appreciate you sharing your heart on this. Visiting you via SITSSharefest

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 21, 2015

      That’s what I like about blogging: you can almost always find people who relate to your experiences.

      I’m going to keep that in mind: write like no one is watching. I’m already good at dancing like no one’s watching; surely I can transfer that to my writing? 😉

  • trininista
    March 19, 2015

    Writer’s block is real. I agree with ‘write what you love’. Don’t force it. It has to be organic. I don’t try to fit into a mould anymore for stats etc. I am trying this year to write at least once a week but not going to make it a chore. Good luck!!!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 21, 2015

      Agreed. I think once a week is a good goal to have. I found a good balance for me is posting twice a week (though some have suggested I should post more, which I consider a compliment).

  • Regina Sayles
    March 19, 2015

    I can empathize with your experience Chanelle since I am currently in the same boat. Writing was not only fun but therapeutic for me in the beginning but it has now become about doing what works to generate exposure and income. I’m currently trying to find the balance between passion and business as Jolyngc mentioned. I think your writing is great and relatable. It inspires me to focus less on “writer’s block” and more on changing the things that may interfere with my ability to write consistently.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 20, 2015

      Thanks, Regina! Good luck to us both in moving past the writer’s block (and still getting exposure and income 😉 )!

  • Sarah J
    March 19, 2015

    Popping over from Totally Terrific Tuesday =) I so believe in writers block, mostly because I get crafters block. How can one have half a basement filled with craft supplies and NOT know what to make? Really? I’m in the same boat where I was consumed with how to make my blog better to make money and that kept the writing from actually happening. I stepped back, write about what I love and haven’t looked (really looked) at my stats in months. Be sure to share your recipes, crafts, upcycles & DIYs at Two Uses Tuesday (Mon 11pm EST to Fri 11pm EST) over at Sarah Celebrates if you don’t already!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 19, 2015

      You know, I never thought about crafter’s block, but creativity is creativity, and sometimes you get stuck.

      Another vote for “write what you love.” 🙂

  • elizainhollywood
    March 18, 2015

    I feel like I’ve had a writer’s block for at least a year – or it could also be just laziness on my part. I do remember when I used to get angry about things (bad dates, shitty relationship, politics), I’d immediately get on my blog and start writing. Now, not so much.

  • Noodle
    March 18, 2015

    Oh, it definitely exists! I have it right this very moment…

    Noodle and crew
    http://www.herecomesnoodle.blogspot.com

  • Tom (@FOIAsaxa)
    March 18, 2015

    Writer’s block plagues me to no end, and it seems as though it’s always cropping up when I’m working against a deadline. I’m a huge supporter of the stream-of-consciousness approach: Whatever’s on your mind, get it into a Word doc or a piece of paper. Pay little to no mind when it comes to poor syntax, organization, grammar, or structure. You can fix all that later.

    One of the hardest things for an editor to do is not edit, so it’s sometimes hard to set aside those little “passive voice!” or “dangling modifier!” chides to oneself. There will be time for that before you file or upload. I also like to listen to music, but it’s gotta be instrumental—lyrics cause much to get lost in the ether. I’m a big fan of Vivaldi (because I’m secretly a 90-year-old man), Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, and the occasional random beats-only account on Soundcloud.

    I like to write outside when it’s warmer. We’re standing on the edge of spring here in D.C., so it’ll be warm enough to do that in due time. Self-editing after going for a run or a long bike ride helps clear my head so I can organize my thoughts, too.

    In any event, keep at it. You got this!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 19, 2015

      Thanks, Tom! Great suggestions. I need to get better about being kinder to myself and quieting down that inner editor when I write!

      I enjoyed the picture you painted of writing outside in DC. Sounds great!

  • Michelle
    March 18, 2015

    Just saw this thread on reddit and thought it was pretty relevant. I hope it helps you or one of your fellow bloggers. 🙂
    https://www.reddit.com/r/LifeProTips/comments/2zh0e9/lpt_when_writing_anything_of_consequence_dont_be/

  • Shahidah
    March 17, 2015

    Wow. Last month I decided to research on how to make money from my blog and immediately froze when it came to content. I have sabotaged my own ambition so I am feeling every word you typed. I feel this fear but have ro find a way to get over it. Would love advice When your brain becomes unclogged lol
    good luck. You have great insight and I know the flow will return. One thing i noticed with my blog is that I tried to appeal to a group that wasn’t mine to get more traffic. I think those post lack emotion from me even though it did get me traffic. But I want to develop my own lane

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 17, 2015

      Shahidah, good for you! I enjoy your blog. I’m happy to give advice – I’m just not always good at taking my own. 😉

      It can be easy to fall into the trap of producing content for traffic’s sake, but I think when it’s inauthentic readers can tell and it doesn’t feel right to you. I think you’re spot on to stick to what feels organic.

      Thank you for sharing and your kind words!

  • Latonya Mo
    March 17, 2015

    This post really inspired me. I get creative block. Once a piece sits for awhile, I start questioning myself. When I am not getting emails from Etsy or Big Cartel, I wonder what I am doing wrong. I love making jewelry. So all that to say, that the blocks are real.

    I don’t get writer’s block as much because I’ve decided to write one or two posts per week, and just to have fun with them. When I start taking myself to serious, I reflect on the posts that I like the most which most of the time are the same ones my readers like and go from there. Those posts keep me grounded. I give myself grace, too.

    Wishing you the best of luck because you really are a great writer 🙂

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 18, 2015

      I love the idea of giving oneself grace. It’s so important. I’ve reminded myself lately, “This is fun, remember? You LIKE to write!” Haha. It actually does help shift my mindset. Great point.

      Thank you, Latonya! Here’s to busting through WB!

  • Starkey
    March 16, 2015

    I don’t care what anyone says the block is real! I get writer’s block quite often. When I was younger, I was taught to write without thinking however sometimes I’m forced to think it out. However, at times, I still use it as my method to work through the writer’s block, and it actually helps out.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 17, 2015

      I’ve read that forcing yourself to just write -without judgement – is a recommended way to push past writer’s block. I just haven’t been able to put it into practice enough. I think its partially a matter of discipline.

      I hope you’re not in a writer’s funk now!

  • Katie @ Recipe for Perfection
    March 16, 2015

    THIS: “Everything I read and researched in an attempt to help my new business grow, seemed to make me feel more inadequate as a blogger and writer.”

    Hello, are you reading my mind? 🙂 Kidding, mostly. As soon as I started getting ambitious about making a living from my blog, the harder things got. What happens is that you start spreading yourself too thin. All that brainpower you used to have in reserve for writing is getting spent on researching, marketing, social media, traffic breakdowns, etc.

    I had to dial back and automate a lot of social media just to get rid of the hamster wheel feeling. I also focus on producing one *really great* post a week, and then I throw in little freebies if I feel like it- but I don’t try to crank out 3, or 4, or 5 full-on mega posts a week. I’d croak.

    Anyway, if you feel like chatting about blogging or venting about trying to “turn pro” so to speak, shoot me an email.

    Best of luck to you and don’t give up. Try letting go of some blogging tasks and also try something new outside of the internet- an unfamiliar dance form, a new cooking style, a new genre of book, something like that. Use your brain in a new way and it will wake up.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 16, 2015

      I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this struggle, Katie. I like your approach and it’s simiar to what I’ve adapted, but I think I need to make some tweaks. I’ve read some blogger’s suggest posting 5 days a week and like you said, there’s just no way. I’d be exhausted if I did that given the types of topics I discuss!

      Thank you so much for your suppport and suggestions, Katie!! 🙂

  • kennedydesousa727
    March 16, 2015

    You got this Keisha! I have an idea that may help you… One exercise that helps is to get a journal and use it to free write your thoughts when you feel stuck. Get a nice black bound book and if your worried about your most personal thoughts being discovered don’t write you name in it. Use it to free write, and write something that your feeling at the moment and know that it’s just you writing it. Afterwards, it can inspire you to write a new post! I take about 15 minutes to write in my journal if not taking notes when I feel kind of nervous about putting something out there. I hope it helps!!! 🙂 Keep up the beautiful work my friend!

  • Jolyngc
    March 16, 2015

    Your mojo is definitely back! That was well written and I totally related to you especially about doing 80 jillion things to increase traffic that ultimately result in increased blog anxiety. I left a job too to pursue other self employed interests. We have many things in common. Finding that happy medium between business and passion is what I am keeping my eyes peeled for…

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 16, 2015

      Double thanks to you Jolyn for your blogging challenge and your gentle encouragement! 🙂 I think writing this post helped me.

      You’re right that finding that balance between business and passion is important. I have been sooooo very focused on business lately.

  • Rebecca Meyer
    March 16, 2015

    I do believe writer’s block exists. I didn’t experience it much until I graduated from college. It seems like once I wasn’t writing as consistenly anymore, the writing became more difficult. I also have a few drafts sitting in my draft box, just waiting to be finished.

    I think for me personally, a lot of my writer’s block happens because of my mindset. When I overthink my writing, that makes the piece less authentic.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 16, 2015

      I’ve read repeatedly that consistency helps with writer’s block, so you’re definitely onto something.

      The overthinking thing is annoying, isn’t it? 😉

      • Rebecca Meyer
        March 16, 2015

        Consistency makes sense. When I was in the habit of writing every day because I had to for classes, writing creatively was easy. But now that I’m not writing for anyone but myself, it’s a bit trickier.

        Yes, overthinking is not fun! At least I know I’m not the only one who does that. 🙂

  • chanelle
    March 16, 2015

    Oh no! I’m sure the “pressure” and “expectation” can get to you. Heck, it gets to me too and I haven’t even started down the monetization road yet. I’m sure your readers come back to visit your site because they enjoy your writing. Just stick to your guns and I’m sure you’ll plow right through the writer’s block. 🙂

    -Chanelle

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