Some authors never get “Writer’s Block,” and they don’t believe that it exists. They’ll blithely say, “Do doctors ever get ‘Doctor’s block,’ or do plumbers ever get ‘plumber’s block’?” and they think that they’ve just scored a point.
If you had asked me ten years ago, I would have told you much the same.
The truth is, doctors do get doctor’s block. Plumbers do get plumber’s block. It’s just that only writers have been smart enough to give the problem a name.
Think about it. Have you ever known someone who didn’t like their work environment, so they just got up and quit from a job that perhaps they had loved a year before? It’s a huge problem. I’ve worked as a manager in a number of businesses and believe me, employee retention is a big problem for management. So we have to make sure that the employees know that we care about them, that they’re properly reimbursed for their time, talents, and expertise, and that they’re given a nice work environment.
Right now, in my online writing workshops at www.mystorydoctor.com, I’m training a number of professionals with high-paying jobs that they were probably once happy with—lawyers, doctors, dentists, pilots, government officials, and execs in Fortune 500 companies. But all of them have decided that they would rather write.
But being a writer can be a tough job. If you’re starting out, early in your career you probably don’t get much in the way of benefits. Instead of praise from fans, you get torn apart by the critics in your writing group. Instead of a pleasant office, you may be writing in a dusty cellar. Instead of big paychecks, your first stories might be paid in copies of the small-press magazine that you just got published in.
In fact, there are a lot of dis-incentives for new writers, and so it can be hard to stay excited about a career.
In fact, it can be hard even for writers who do make good money!
Several years ago, an agent called and asked me to hurry up and get a book turned in—the last novel in my Runelords series. Now, I’m going to be honest here. He called at a very bad time. I had gone to Oregon to take care of my mother, who was dying. I had literally been holding her hand, trying to comfort her, when my agent called. You can imagine that I wasn’t in a great mood to write.
On the phone my agent relayed a threatening message from my editor—one that I found outrageous. I thought about calling my publisher and demanding a new editor. I thought about just quitting my work with the publisher altogether.
In short, I became blocked on that project.
I tried working on it over and over again, but each time that I did I felt . . . confused. I couldn’t focus. I began to worry that I was getting Alzheimer disease, or something else. So I began taking vitamins and exercising, trying to get back on track.
Each time that I tried to write on that project, I also found myself getting angry all over again and feeling a keen sense of despair.
That didn’t stop me from writing in general. I had begun writing a book before my mother died, and she’d read it and begged me to publish it. It was a little historical novel called In the Company of Angels, which dealt with some early Mormon pioneers who crossed the prairie in handcarts, braving persecution, Indian attacks, buffalo stampedes, an early winter, and ultimately starvation. So I finished it off a few months after she passed and published it. It beat out 365 other professionally published novels (it was the only self-published book in the competition) to win the Whitney Award for best novel of the year.
Then I tried to finish my Runelords book, and still couldn’t do it.
So I began working on a Young Adult thriller, Nightingale. I published it, and won several other awards for it, including the Hollywood Book Festival for Best Book of the Year, and the International Book Award for Best Young Adult Novel of the year.
Now, I’d won awards before, and it felt nice to be on track once again. With my latest Runelords novel, I felt that I was somehow losing it, and by winning a few awards, it helped convince me that maybe I hadn’t lost it altogether.
But man, I suddenly realized that I had gone five years and hadn’t been able to finish that novel!
My son Forrest had begun studying neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and had recently gotten his master practitioner certificate, and he said, “Oh, I can get you over your writer’s block, easy.”
I thought, “Sure. I’ve been carrying this around for five years, and you think you can cure me like that?”
Now, I knew the science behind NLP, and it sounded reasonable, so he took me through an exercise, and in fifteen minutes, he cured me. Not only did I feel like I could write the novel, I was so excited by it, that I wanted to throw everything else aside—little things like eating and sleeping—and get to work on it immediately. Not only did I know that I was cured, I knew that I would never get writers block again. Or at least, I suspect that if I ever do get it again, I’m not going to drag my feet for even two days before I get the problem handled.
In looking back on it, I feel that my anger and inability to write on that project are . . . laughable. In other words, I find myself laughing at my own weakness. How could I have been so stupid? So I’m going to finish up that novel soon, and I’ve been making time to work on it. It’s coming along beautifully, and I know that it’s going to be great—as powerful as I’d imagined.
With that in mind, I realize that I know of a lot of other authors who are currently blocked on projects. One of my past students has made hundreds of millions of dollars as a writer, but I haven’t seen anything by her in five years. I suspect that she feels blocked. Another of my friends had a hit novel ten years ago, but I’m waiting for something more.
A lot of things can block you. People are most often blocked by negative criticism. The criticism might come from literary critics, from writers in a writing group, from editors, from random terrorists posting on Amazon.com, from family members or friends, or even a thought that flashes through the back of a writer’s own mind.
Some writers get anxious. They set unrealistic deadlines for themselves, or they feel undue pressure with their work. They may worry about tough critics or the possibility of bad reviews—or they might worry that they’ll actually succeed. And those worries block the creative process.
In short, there are a lot of things that can hinder a project.
So I’ve learned that writer’s block is real, and that it can cripple a writer—even if it only happens on a certain project.
With all of this in mind, I wanted to see if we can treat others as easily as I was treated. So I’ve asked Forrest to do some tests with me and try unblocking some other writers. One fellow has been blocked for several years, and after a short treatment, he’s now eagerly writing his book.
Here is a testimonial from a dentist who says, “After two months of writers block, I spoke to Forrest (who) asked me some questions and ran me through a few NLP exercises. Though I did not understand everything he was trying to get me to visualize, as it was such a short amount of time, my mind did start working through what was blocking me. Forrest was able to direct me to the exact issue because I certainly could not figure it out. I wanted to write. I love to write. But I could not write. The second I hung up the phone I had the desire to get back into my novel. I wrote for three hours. The next day my mind came up with more answers as to what was blocking me. Then I wrote some more after I came home from work. By Sunday I had my answers and now I am writing steadily again. . . .”
With this in mind, we’re going to be testing a pilot program this week. If you’re suffering from writer’s block, or if you know someone else who is, you can contact Forrest for a risk-free trial of his services.
Here is how it works. Forrest’s consulting fee is at a one-time special of $100 for the first 20 people in this program. (Normally, consultation charges are more than this.) He will contact you and talk to you either by phone or on Skype, and unblock you. If it doesn’t work, he will refund your money.
You should be aware that this might not work with everyone. For example, Forrest assures me that some people have multiple issues and may need more than an hour—but most people will get through their writer’s block quickly.
If you would like to give it a try, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my favorite things to do is to help writers personally with their projects. It's not possible for me to meet with everyone one-on-one, but workshops allow me to get pretty close since I try to keep the student:teacher ratio to no more than 10:1.
This summer I'm teaching two of my favorite Master classes—Worldbuilding and Casting Your Novel. Come on down to St. George, spend a wonderful week perfecting your work alongside other talented writers and get personal attention and help from me on your project. I'd love to see you there. You can learn more about the workshops by clicking here.