The 3 major flavors of “writer’s block” — and how to get over ‘em, once + for all.

 
 


Paper. Light. Words. Captured at my last San Francisco workshop. By Esmé Weijun Wang.

 
 

You’ve got blocks. I’ve got answers.

No expository intro required.

Let’s just dive in …

 

“I don’t write because … it’s all been said before. And somebody else said it better.”

 

You’re absolutely right. It has all been said before.

When you write, you’re probably not revealing “revolutionary” or “innovative” information. You’re probably offering a timeless reminder about a universal subject, like love, compassion, balance, jealousy, grief, creativity or peace.

The kind of timeless reminder that we (your appreciative readers) need to hear. And keep hearing. Again. And again.

Until one day — because of the way you phrased it, because of the twist you gave it, or because of the personal story you wrapped around it — we finally get it.

Your new mantra: “Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens, we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.” –Andre Gide

 
 

“I don’t write because … nobody’s reading yet!”

 

50 years ago, Mister Rogers began his award-winning, nationally-syndicated television program with a budget of $30 + a simple dream: to create a “daily expression of care” for the children he loved.

6 years ago, Lady Gaga was a waitress in New York City — performing early material at night clubs, when she was fortunate enough to book a gig.

4 years ago, when I wrote my very first post for this particular blog, I had zero readers. After about a week, I had exactly one: my dad.

Every writer, every performer, every creator begins at zero. There is no way to shortcut or circumvent this reality.

The only way to build an audience is to keep creating — consistently, enthusiastically, helpfully.

Your new mantra: “If I help one person today — and that person shares my work with one other person — then I have done well.”

 
 

“I don’t write because … my life has been relatively easy. I’ve never ‘overcome’ any obstacles. What right do I have, to speak?”

 

We live in a world that adores a good “triumph over adversity” storyline.

But you don’t have to “overcome adversity” in order to “know stuff.”

If you’ve discovered how to do something, without having to “suffer” to figure it out, congratulations! A gift is a gift is a gift.

Know yours, and use them well.

Your new mantra: “Some lessons are won the hard way. Others come naturally. All are valid. All are valuable. All are worth sharing.”

 

xo.

P.S. What stops YOU from writing, speaking, performing or creating — in public? Share your biggest woes, below.

 
 

Comments

Absolutely LOVE the mantras! Simple yet so true. Thanks for giving me clarity!

I don’t write because it doesn’t come naturally to me and I’m a lazy perfectionist. Then I complain about all the dreck that is being written by others and wish I could get my voice out there too. Ultimately I feel embarrassed that my writing is not well crafted and worry that I’ll be judged too. I’m not being very brave or disciplined. Your mantras are very helpful and I look forward to your Over It party, sounds like what I need. I hope you’ll have another Write Yourself into Motion Workshop in San Francisco in 2014, it’s just the kind of motivation and support I need.

K: Glad you’ll be getting OVER IT with me. It’s going to be a grand ol’ time. :)

Alexandra Franzen on Dec 19, 2013 Reply

gorgeous.useful.true.

This post inspires me to say what I’ve only said to one other person in my life…which is “I want to have your children!” It’s that good.Thank you for writing what I needed to read + remember today.

YOU are quite welcome.

Alexandra Franzen on Dec 19, 2013 Reply

Thanks Alexandra!! your words do always speak to my heart..and today even more!!!! Gratitude………..

jayalakshmi on Dec 16, 2013 Reply

I wasn’t going to register to your online event because “I’m not a writer” but then I thought… OVER IT!

Damn straight, Caroline!

Alexandra Franzen on Dec 19, 2013 Reply

Great points Alexandra.

If novelists + movie producers felt “it’s all been done before”, we’d have stopped way before Shakespeare…and we wouldn’t have sequels.

Preeeecisely.

Alexandra Franzen on Dec 19, 2013 Reply

truth serum mantras. wildly needed. beyond helpful. i’m one of those peeps you helped today. thank you.

Holy cow! This post was written for me, I swear.
Thank you very much. You rock, Alex.

Fab on Dec 19, 2013 Reply

When you saunter into my inbox, you saunter into my soul. It’s as if you know what I need to hear and when I need to hear it; I sit and read, my eyes and heart devouring every word, while my head nods silently and goosebumps rise up on my arms as if to say, “Hell, yes!” Thank you for being such a fantastic force in my life. xoxo

This post is so wonderful.

This mantra, especially, is forever relevant in my life: “Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens, we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.” –Andre Gide

I’ve printed this out and pasted it over my computer as my mantra for 2014. Thanks so much for being you, Alexandra. I hope your 2014 is so astonishing, it takes your breath away!!!

I stumbled into writer’s block in 1968 and didn’t get out for 37 years. This is one experience that led to my book of writing tips, A Writer’s Notebook: Everything I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Starting Out. Writing it, I imagined the self I am today, after 19 books, standing next to my younger self, ready to answer any question. There’s a sample on my website:
http://www.sanmiguelallendebooks.com/writernotebook.html

I have read many blogs…but this one kept me reading one post after another…for hours! Love it!!! Thank you Alexandra!

Thank you for those thoughts and for those mantras. They really are quite wonderful tor writers to remember! As a blogger and a poet, they are so meaningful

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