What is writer’s block anyway? – Lucy Vine

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By Lucy Vine

Writer’s block is something I’d never thought much about until last year. Oh, apart from wondering feverishly where that damned apostrophe should be. To be honest, I thought it was kind of a silly idea – an excuse, even. I’ve been a journalist for 11 years and it just wasn’t something that had ever affected me.♥

But then, I’d never tried to write 80,000 words before.

I’m in the middle of writing my second book right now, and I’d forgotten what a mix of emotions it is. That feeling of flying you get when it’s all going well – how much fun it is when you’re in your characters’ heads – and then that dreaded, awful other side. The side where you lie on your sofa for five hours straight, staring blankly at an episode of Friends that you’ve already seen at least eighteen times. And one of those times was literally yesterday.

Speaking to fellow authors, I know writer’s block comes in a lot of different forms. It can be a creative slowdown, it can be the feeling that there are no more words in this world, it can be a frustrating and seemingly endless pile of terrible words on a page that won’t fix themselves. For me, it feels like laziness – like straightforward procrastination I should be able to get on top of. When I’m sitting there, doing nothing, I feel like I have no self-control – no willpower – and I hate myself for it. That’s the worst part of it.

With Hot Mess, my debut novel, I took two months off my usual work, freelancing in magazine offices, to write. I kept thinking I would fall into a routine. It was exciting – I’d find out if I was a night writer, or one of those legendary early morning people. Or maybe I’d work office-type hours like I always had before. But it didn’t happen like that. It was so random, I had no routine at all. Some days I’d start at 9am and work until 6pm, other days I’d start at 10pm and type continuously until 4am. When I am actually writing, it’s easy and fast. On a good day I can write 10,000 words pretty easily. But then I’d have a whole week where I couldn’t even bring myself to open the Word doc.

It’s so frustrating, but you can’t let it win. I’ve found the thing to remember with writer’s block is that the feeling will pass. It will, and you can’t beat yourself up over it. Sometimes it’s about getting outside and going for a walk. Sometimes it’s about having a night off, getting drunk and stealing as many of those real life moments for your work as you can. Sometimes it’s just about giving in and watching that whole Netflix series in a day to clear your mind.

And, I promise, the urge to return to your writing will come back of its own accord. Maybe in the middle of the night, when you wake up itching with a sentence that inspires you to then keep going for another six hours. The point is not to give up, not let the block defeat you, because it’s always worth it. And it’s always worth re-watching Friends anyway.

Lucy Vine is a freelance journalist based in London, who regularly writes and edits for the likes of Grazia, Heat, Cosmo, Stylist and Marie Claire. She also writes a weekly newsy column for Grazia Daily. Fed up of seeing the happily-ever-afters in films, she decided to write her own and her debut Hot Mess is the result.


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