When the well runs dry

Many writers believe in writer’s block, that strange virus that creeps up on you while you’re sleeping and steals your creativity. I’m not all that convinced. The average human processes thousands of thoughts per day. To find yourself staring at a blank page with nothing to say for weeks/months/years on end would seem highly unlikely. But, on the other hand …

The creative process is a curious thing. As writers, we spend our working lives waiting for the muse to descend. When it doesn’t, we panic and look for reasons why. Have we exhausted our creative faculties or simply run out of things to say? The answer may be less dramatic than you might think.

Sometimes we get too wrapped up in a piece of writing. The temptation is to use all our creative energies without a break. The result is often predictable.  Characters don’t sparkle, dialogue sounds dull and hackneyed and crucial scenes fail to come to life. But, being the conscientious workaholics that we are, we refuse to give in and carry on working through the night. The result – more fatigue, more time spent staring at a blank page and a humiliating loss of production.

There is an alternative. Abandon the notebook or laptop and walk away. Do something relaxing, like soak in the bath or read a book. Your epic, or whatever it is you’re working on, won’t suffer from your temporary absence. On the contrary, the distance will give you a better perspective when you finally return.

The analogy of the long distance runner holds true. You need to pace yourself if you want to cross the finish line.

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