Writer’s Block vs. Writer’s Anxiety

Writers can identify with these negative feelings all too well.  Sit down to write but nothing flows. They are stuck and cannot move past it.  Try different methods and nothing seems to work. Most new and seasoned writers have likely heard of Writer’s Block and many have personally gone through the worst phases of it already.  Several dozen taps on the delete key (or a few hundred crumpled pieces of paper on the floor), and that’s the better part of it. The worst might rear its ugly head in forms of depression or quitting writing altogether.    

Writer’s Block is the current state of being blocked.  This is when writers freeze up, unable to produce anything past a one-word sentence; unable to move past a certain point and are simply experiencing a creative slowdown to a point of deterioration.  But before any writer should give up with no hope in sight, he/she might need to look at what’s causing it, why it’s occurring and how to fix it before it’s too late.

Writer’s Anxiety is what causes Writer’s Block.  Sometimes a writer has time to ease into this state but at other times is forced abruptly with no warning.  Writer’s Anxiety is a term used for worry, fear, tension, nervousness and other negative situational feelings that cause the block.  The anxiety creeps up on writers like an uninvited guest, bringing along with it not just “Plus 1”, but “Plus 10” different forms of guests with no intention of leaving.  They’re ready to move in unless they are kicked out.

Although very close companions, Writer’s Block is slightly different than Writer’s Anxiety.  Writer’s Block has been a very widespread term used for decades in relation to writers. This condition was first described in 1947 by psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler, when he coined to denote the “drying up a writer’s wellspring of creative imagination.” And, according to others, Writer’s Block is just a myth.  

Ever wonder why a writer breezes through one piece without a glitch, but freezes up when it comes to another?  Usually, anxious feelings arise when a writer braves unchartered territory in relation to a new project. Whether it’s writing about a specific topic or a field of little previous knowledge, feelings of nervousness may arise to the surface.  Sometimes, based on past experiences, anxiety bubbles up to the surface in the form of tension because a writer knows that their audience will be severely critical or demanding. Those feelings of negative criticism will linger even if the reader or viewer will not be on the receiving end.  At other times, a tight deadline or a lot of unstructured time will make the writer experience worry. These are only a few instances of when writers experience anxiety. Other situational forms include personal struggles, financial instability, depression, loss, death or a midlife crisis.

There are ways, however, to zero in on the anxious feelings that cause the block and make a comeback to continue writing again.  It’s important to do yourself a favor and remove the figurative tree off the road; quickly identifying emotions associated with the pause and finding a solution to fix it.  You owe it to yourself, because let’s face it; you have a story to tell. A little obstacle shouldn’t keep you from telling “the greatest story ever told.”

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