Last week, I presented the general cognitive-behavioral model that I'm using throughout this series, so if you find yourself lost in these next few posts, you might want to refer back to it.
Awhile back, I asked you guys to tell me about your experiences with writer's block, and you really came through for me. I also asked the folks over on the Absolute Write boards to share. I compiled those results and came up with this:
It's a summary, of course, a sampling. But I noticed a few things--the responses had a lot in common. Based on my informal poll, I'm going to suggest that writer's block seems to come in three (very)general "flavors."
Broader life/mental health issues: I read a few accounts where it really seemed like life got in the way. That makes sense, right? If you've got a lot going on (general stress, major transitions, disappointing events, intense experiences that might be good but are still draining), or if you have depression or anxiety, you might have writer's block that's more driven by those things rather than the experience of writing. Sometimes writing is a refuge--but it doesn't go unaffected by our every day experiences.
Brain clog: This is a highly technical term that basically means you're STUCK. Either it's a scene, or the plot, or how to get from point A to point B ... you're having trouble solving the problem, no matter how much you think about it!
Avoidance: A very common flavor, judging by all of your responses! Here, we're talking about sitting down to write and having an unpleasant thought (one you *might* not even know you're having, but in the diagram above, "I'll still be far from the finish line" and "I'm going to have to rewrite the whole thing" and "I'll never be as awesome as so-and-so" are examples), and it feels bad! So you ... avoid it!
And guess what? You know all those fabulous tips out there for dealing with writer's block? They won't necessarily be effective for you unless you know what flavor of writer's block you have. Because the ways you deal with each flavor are pretty different from one another!
I'll be back on Wednesday to talk about the first two flavors, and next Monday I'll talk about the third. Next Wednesday, I'll wrap up the series with a discussion of the phrase "writer's block doesn't exist." But I'm certain you've never heard anyone say that, right? ;)
Let me know if you have any questions or think I've missed a flavor!