I’m a writer. As a writer, one of my least favorite things on this planet is Comic Sans. Coming in a close second is writer’s block. If you are a writer, there’s a better than 100,000,000 percent chance that at some point you’ve experienced a case of writer’s block.
What is writer’s block? I’m sure Mr. Merriam or Mr. Webster have definitions, but I’m going to freelance this one, because writer:
Writer’s block (noun): The period when you cannot seem to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard; or the place where you are standing when you are a few doors down from the house of a person whose last name is Writer. Writer’s block is the common term for the inability to get thoughts, minds, bodies and souls in one accord to write that real s—t, s—t-to-make-you-feel s—t, bump-it-in-the-club s—t and have you wildin’ out.
I (Panama) have and have had writer’s block a lot. Well, at least, a bit more than a little, but then not quite a few. That’s a Black Sheep reference. Because hip-hop.
Do you know what it feels like to have all of these thoughts swirling in your head, and when you try to get them out, you come up with nothing? I’m guessing that you might. Writing is an enjoyable experience, but when it’s hard to even get things out—literary constipation of sorts—it makes you … Argh!
I’m having that problem right now. See, this is me attempting to write myself out of writer’s block. And to do so, I’m going to tell you how to cope with and release the valve on your mental. You can beat writer’s block. Don’t let it beat you.
Reread your old writings.
One of the best ways to get out of writer’s block is to piss yourself off. My favorite way to piss myself off is to reread my archives and revel at how funny and interesting I feel that I used to be. Or how introspective and sharp. Now? I’m stuck trying to figure out if I’m even interesting anymore. Rereading what you’ve done is a good reminder of who you are. You, oh thee of writer’s block, are somebody. And you’re somebody who’s f—king awesome. The proof is in the pudding, and I like pudding that has proof in it.
Write everything down.
I don’t keep a journal. And I can’t keep on falling … in and out of love … with you … anymore. But I do use my phone’s note function to write down lots of things, hoping that, in a rut, if I need something to write about, I can look in there and see something that will both tickle my fancy and inspire me to at least hop back on the saddle in the wagon and help me stay on the boat.
Seriously, though, you might not be able to write a coherent sentence, but your mind is spitting out phrases all the time. Write them down, and one day you just might unlock the keys to the kingdom. The kingdom is your writings. Your writings are the things you do when you’re not doing your day job. Or is that just me? Probably. Definitely, maybe. That was such a good movie—and cute, too. I watch it sometimes when I’m alone in my room and tired of staring at the walls. That song is almost 30 years old. Which means that I’m old, not like Methuselah, but like other people my age.
See how that worked? I just wrote down everything. I already feel better.
Read a lot.
After you’ve read your own s—t, get thee to everybody’s favorite bookstore, Facebook, and read about all the crazy things happening and then read the long-form essays on sharks, music, love, relationships, the ’90s, millennials, etc. Read it all. Reading what others have written will do two things: 1) It will illustrate to you just how many damn people are out here writing, sheesh. No wonder writers don’t make s—t; literally, everybody is a writer; and 2) It will give you ideas of what you might want to write about yourself after you realize that every-gotdamn-body is a writer.
I remember when Damon and I released our book with the longest title ever: Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating and Fighting Crime. Seriously, it’s 20 words. Meanwhile, books with titles like The Firm and 1984 exist. Anyway, after we dropped our long-titled book, somebody asked me how it felt to have written a book and did I feel accomplished. I told him that it was an accomplishment and it was good to say we did it, but had he been to Barnes & Noble lately? There are, like, a million books in there. It’s cool to have written a book, but keep it in perspective that lots of people have also written books that nobody is reading.
The point there? Everybody writes nowadays. But not everybody is a writer. Nobody will know that unless you get over the writer’s block, though. Until then, I’m stuck reading s—t by that guy who did that thing in the place. I’ll never forget it, either. Write drunk, edit sober.
Lastly, remember that it’s a phase.
Before you hit your Dougie and landed in your writer’s block, you were able to crank out a piece with ease. But much like everything in life, s—t comes and goes in phases. Today you’re on your A game; tomorrow, nobody cares that you’re a writer because their cousin’s homeboy’s teacher’s sister wrote that book. But what you bring to the table? Priceless. Keep that in mind. You have what it takes. A good case of writer’s block can remind you exactly why it is that you’re in this writing game.
Just remember, above all else, the best way to get out of writer’s block is just to write.
Your words are your legacy. They’ll far outlive you, and everything won’t be the best thing you’ve ever written. But written it is. Let that bitch breathe, and eventually you’ll see yourself back where you belong.
All over the page wit’ your bitch ass.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.