Most women would agree there are few tasks in life as difficult as giving birth.
However, if you’ve experienced a case of writer’s block, you might have some concept of the anguish involved in a slow and painful delivery–the delivery of your manuscript, that is.
A finished manuscript, after all the love and hard work you’ve put into it, can feel like a cherished child.
But what happens when your baby gets stuck enroute?
If you want to know how to get past writer’s block, take a few hints from a woman in labour. After all, you can’t possibly be in as much pain as she is…
Push When you Feel the Urge
Suffering from writer’s block is the very opposite of ‘feeling the urge to push.’
Just looking at your computer screen or notebook makes you cringe with shame. You can’t think of two decent words to string together.
Somewhere along the way, one (or more) of the following 3 things has happened:
- you lost your passion for your current manuscript
- you got distracted by life or your day job
- you didn’t plan well enough before leaping into the project
To counteract the effects of a slow manuscript labour, push when you feel the urge. As soon as an idea comes to mind, writing it down immediately will probably help spur on the process. Don’t let even the slightest opportunity pass you by.
And while your inner critic might be tempted to heckle you over what comes out, remember: it’s more important to write something than nothing at this point.
Breathe Through the Pain
You know those breathing exercises (“hee hee, hoo hoo”) you see pregnant women practicing? They can’t eliminate the pain of childbirth, but they can help manage it.
While panting over your project might not be terribly beneficial, the concept of ‘breathing through the pain’ can help you overcome writer’s block.
Some ways to manage blank-page woes are:
- Go back to the planning stages of your manuscript and see if the problem lies there
- Make a mind-map of what you’ve written so far and where you still need to go
- Write the easiest parts first, even if it means skipping further ahead than you planned
- Warm-up before writing sessions by working on something else first
- Take a brisk 10-minute walk before sitting down to write
Take the pain of writer’s block for what it is: an obstacle you can overcome with the right strategies.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
The thought of holding her newborn in her arms is what keeps a woman in labour going.
To summon strength for that final and most difficult push, she remembers the reward awaiting her at the end of it.
What will your reward be? How important is it for you to finish your manuscript?
If you haven’t already set general writing goals, as well as specific project goals, do it now. The best way to keep yourself motivated is by regularly reviewing these goals.
Keep your eye on the prize, and nothing will prevent you from receiving it.
A Final Word…
Overcoming writer’s block isn’t easy, but neither is giving birth.
Next time your manuscript gets stuck in a difficult labour, bear down, breathe through it, and remember what’s important to you.
Countless generations of mothers will tell you–the pain of the process is infinitely worth the payoff.