Welcome to Tick-Tock, Writer’s Block. We hope you will find this 10-week series informative as we dive into time management and that little annoyance that seems to plague all writers from time to time, writer’s block.
10 writers have teamed up to offer you tips, tricks, and general information about these issues. We hope this series provides insight and useful tools you can put into practice with your own writing habits!
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I used to think that writer’s block was a myth. At least it was for me. It wasn’t that the words always flowed perfectly or that I loved everything I wrote. But when I sat down to write, there were always words to be found. Perhaps not great ones, but definitely fixable ones.
But somewhere around book four or five, I began struggling to find the words. Every letter, line, and page became a battle. I wasn’t looking for perfect, but I couldn’t even find passable.
And every struggle was accompanied by a little voice in my head that said, “You’re doing this wrong.” Every session at my computer included a reminder, “You’re not good enough. Someone is going to point out that you’re a fraud, and they’ll be right.” And when I heard, “You’re never going to be as good as so-and-so,” I quit even trying to find the words.
And that’s when I knew the truth—writer’s block is real.
But acknowledging it and beating it are two very different things. To fight it I had to get to the root. And—for me, anyway—it always begins with fear. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of letting my editor, agent, or family down. Fear of bad reviews and terrible sales.
Fear of not being enough.
And that usually begins with comparison. Because if it’s just me, doing the best that I can, writing the best book I’m capable of, then I can’t lose. But if I’m comparing my methods, I generally come up short. I have friends who can and do regularly write 7500 words in a day. On my very, very best days, I’ve only hit 6000. I know of writers who get up at 4am to write before the rest of their day starts. I’d be comatose if I tried to do that.
When I compare outcomes, the results aren’t much better. There will always be someone with higher sales, better reviews, and more awards. There will always be writers with more contracts, more releases, and more education.
It’s a simple formula.
Comparison = Fear of Not Measuring Up = Writer’s Block
I was on a writing retreat a few years ago, when I hit a wall. I’d taken a quick Facebook detour and seen that a friend of mine had written 9000 words in one day. I hadn’t even written half that many, and I’d been at it all day. And that’s when the familiar voice returned. “You’re doing this wrong.”
For just a moment, I was tempted to believe it. After all, my methods sure didn’t look like my friend’s. My results from a long weekend of writing were barely better than her one day efforts. Clearly if I plotted better or gave up plotting altogether or learned to turn off my inner-editor, I would be doing it right. And I would write just as fast. Maybe it wasn’t worth it to keep writing if I wasn’t even doing it the right way.
And then came a still small voice I had missed before. “That voice you hear is lying to you. Ignore it. Here’s the truth: I’ve given you a love of writing and a talent that is uniquely yours. I didn’t give you what I gave others. Your stories are your own. Write them to the best of your ability. And leave the rest up to Me.”
Immediately I thought about the parable of the talents in the New Testament. In that story, the master, who represents God, gives his servants each a portion. One receives ten talents, another five, and a third only one. The master goes away for a while, and when he comes back, he discovers that the first two servants invested their talents wisely, but the third buried his money because he was afraid. Upon the master’s return, he had nothing to show.
That realization was a bit of smack in the face for me. I don’t want to be like the third servant, who got a stern talking to from the master. Even worse, his talent was taken from him and given to first servant.
I don’t know if God is in the habit of taking away gifts that His children don’t use, but I don’t want to find out. If I’ve been given a talent—a love and passion for the written word—then I’m going to use it. And I’m not going to listen to the lies the devil whispers in my ear. After all, he’s the original liar.
When I recognized that the whispers I’d been listening to for so long were lies, I had to fight them. And what do you use to fight a lie? The truth.
A few months ago, I discovered a song that I wish I’d had in that hotel room all those years ago. Ellie Holcomb’s “Fighting Words” has become my mantra and my reminder when I hear those lies. If you haven’t heard it, here are the opening lines:
Fear is like a broken record, same old songs of accusation play
Like, “who are you to speak the truth, just look at all your failures and mistakes”
And “If they really knew you, there’s no way they could love you anyway”
Oh-oh-ohh, but I will…
Fight the lies with the truth, oh-ohh
Keep my eyes fixed on You
My fighting words are:
· I’m a daughter of the King.
· I am loved and valued.
· My gifts are unique.
· My goals are original.
· I honor God when I use the gifts He’s given me.
· No book I write or award I win will make God love me more. Or less.
· He is always enough, so I don’t have to be.
What are your fighting words?
Liz Johnson fell in love with Prince Edward Island the first time she set foot on it. When she’s not plotting her next trip to the island, she works as director of marketing for a Christian radio network. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, including The Red Door Inn, Where Two Hearts Meet, and the forthcoming On Love’s Gentle Shore, a New York Times bestselling novella, and a handful of short stories. She makes her home in Tucson, Arizona.
Where Two Hearts Meet
In her kitchen at the Red Door Inn, executive chef Caden Holt is calm, collected, and competent. But when her boss asks her to show off their beautiful island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the inn, Caden is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen–and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful.
Journalist Adam Jacobs is on a forced sabbatical on Prince Edward Island. He’s also on assignment to uncover a story. Instead he’s falling in love with the island’s red shores and Caden’s sweets.
When Caden discovers Adam isn’t who she thought he was, she realizes that the article he’s writing could do more than ruin the inn’s chances for survival–it might also break her heart.
Readers will discover hope for the hurting, joy for the broken, and romance for the lonely at the enchanting Red Door Inn.
You can learn more about Liz Johnson by visiting
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Check out last week’s post, There’s No Such Thing as a Wasted Word by Rachel McMillan. Don’t miss our next post, published every Wednesday!
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