The Deep Dark Hole That Can Consume Writers


For almost two months, each time I sit down to work on my manuscript the same feeling engulfs me. I feel the room turn dark and cavernous. The walls begin to close in on me. Emotionally, I feel a combination of frustration and despair.

I’ve got writer’s block.

Back in the 1950s, a psychiatrist named Edmund Bergler studied writers with creative issues and labeled the condition as “neurotic inhibitions of productivity.” He was Freudian trained and recommended psychotherapy. Since then, various mental health professionals have conducted research on the condition and recommended approaches to overcome creative block. Many of my writing peers have also provided tips and advice.

But that feeling won’t go away. It’s not that I’m not able to write. At the moment, I hate everything I’m writing or have written. Nothing feels funny. Everything seems structurally weak. The plot seems to be going nowhere and characters paper thin. Those amazing images that floated around in my head have been replaced with darkness. My main character, Dix, was dictating much of the story to me, but he’s gone silent.

It’s boils down to lack of confidence. I no longer believe in myself. I don’t know how it started but it worsened after I participated in The FOLD Writer’s Court. The confused look from the judges was very unnerving. I know I should just put it behind me but so far I haven’t been able to.

I’ve read dozens of articles on writer’s block. There are so many do’s and don’ts. Some advice is conflicting. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no “one size fits all” solution. I tried to switch from writing to editing but that made things worse. I found I wasn’t creating but only tearing down. I tried reading for inspiration but it felt like a form of avoidance.

I think I’m going to set aside my manuscript and for a little while and write something different. Some writers have multiple pieces they are working on. I prefer to work on one manuscript at a time. I have a presentation that needs to be written. I’m going to work on an outline for my next manuscript. And wait for Dix to return and work with me to finish my manuscript. Hopefully, he returns soon.

8 thoughts on “The Deep Dark Hole That Can Consume Writers

  1. ElusiveStory says:

    I hope he returns soon for you, Willie!

    Just as there isn’t one way to write, I doubt there is one way to deal with writer’s block. Hope you find what works for you.

    I started a “fun” story in which I’ve given myself NO expectations. I am trying hard to just go with the flow and write FOR ME and not worry about the judgment of others. And save all that pressure for the WIP I’m editing. It’s a nice break or reward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • williehandler says:

      Thanks. I’m sure it will come back. I think a lot of negative​ things converged all at once. For example, I decided instead of writing I would stop and begin editing before finishing my first draft. I totally lost my rhythm by doing that. I plan to go back and try again this week.

      Thanks Meghan for your encouragement and kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A.S. Akkalon says:

    Sorry to hear you’re struggling. Writer’s block is hard.

    It sounds as if the blow to confidence was a big factor here. Have you tried various ways of building up your confidence? When I got to the point where I felt everything I was writing was rubbish I sent a chapter to my critique partner. I told her I needed a boost and asked her to tell me what she liked about the chapter. There are times to ask for honest feedback, and this wasn’t one of them. She said some lovely things, and I was able to go back to writing feeling better about my ability. If you’ve got feedback on your writing in the past, can you collect up just the positive things people said and read over them several times? I’d be happy to read a chapter for you and tell you what I thought was great about it, if you’d like me to. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. williehandler says:

    Thanks for reading my post and commenting. I did share my work with a couple of people and they assured me it was funny. Humour is tough to write and sometimes you can no longer judge your own work. The last couple of days I began to slowly get back to writing. Thanks for the offer to help. Of course if you are ever interested in reading some of my WIP I would be happy to share it with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. JJ Burry says:

    I’ve heard so many stories about writer’s block (and a few harsh quotes as well), but it’s tough to deal with. You’re right about the one size not fitting all thing, but I think focusing your attention on something else for a while can help. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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