How to Conquer Writer’s Block Tip 39


When I was teaching my classes on writing for children at UCLA Extension, I noticed that the best writers thought their work was terrible, and those with much less potential and knowledge of craft were more interested in finding an agent and editor than improving their manuscripts. My theory is that true writers are lifelong readers–their standards are exceedingly high, having read the best work published.

Monika Schroeder, whose novel, MY BROTHER’S SHADOW, set in Berlin 1918, will be published by Farrar in September, addresses this issue with the following tip. And as they say, “Awareness is all.”

“I read a lot of books by other authors,” Monika says, “but when I am not feeling good about my own writing, the comparisons I draw lead to a complete shut-down of my own ability to write. Then I sit in front of the screen, paralyzed in ‘writer’s block’, convinced that I will never be as good as author xyz and I might as well give it up right now. In order to “unblock” myself when reading (and comparing my own work with) other authors, I need to remind myself that what I am reading is the polished, finished product. Their manuscripts most likely went through many revisions and may have looked pretty dismal in an earlier stage. It helps me to remember that simple fact. Sigh!”

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