Have something to say?
Most people do, even if they do not always say it. That has been changing in recent years with the rise of social media, particularly as it concerns the airing of personal problems or expressing political opinions.
But what about the student given an assignment in class to write a two-page analysis or opinion piece? Or the professional author who has written his or her first novel and cannot find the words for the second?
It is real. For most of my professional life, my writing has largely consisted of emails, requirements, and technical specifications in the software world. I was writing for an audience who needed to know what I knew, and they needed it to be clear, concise, and complete. Writing was not difficult at all because the message was there; the words flowed from within and most of my work was in editing to ensure professionalism and appropriateness – oh, and ensuring I did not offend or come across as emotional.
But writing my book or short stories? This was difficult to do! It was not so easy to sit down and create a story that I was happy with. Many times I found myself writing a few sentences that turned into a few paragraphs, yet it was like pulling light from darkness. There was no flow, at least at first. It was not enjoyable, and my mind kept searching for reasons for me to stop.
I’ve read many works through the years of well-known and established authors who have suffered writer’s block. Each had a way in which they got past it, though some never did. Harper Lee, who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird published in 1960, did not publish a second novel until 2015 entitled Go Set a Watchman, three years before her death. I’ve read different accounts for why she never published again, including the suggestion of her concern a second novel could never rise to the success of the first. However, I believe she struggled with having something to say, at least in the context of a novel. In my opinion, when you have something to say, it is easy to write. When you don’t, it is hard.
Additionally, when you have something to say, you don’t care about how successful it will be, although you want it to be. You care only that you say it, and the consequences be damned.
Getting past writer’s block is the exercise of discovering what you want to say to the world. Writing words on a page, even when you know you will throw them away later, is how most writer’s get past writer’s block. It is the idea that the act of writing, in and of itself, will eventually unlock that part of your mind where you discover you have something to say. Once that happens, writing will not be so difficult.
While there are many reasons why writers suffer writer’s block, as well as many ways to get past it, I believe not having something to say is the primary reason why it happens.
So discover what it is you want to say. And say it.
The Telegraph – Why Harper Lee kept her silence for 55 years by Philip Hensher (Feb 19, 2016)