What causes writer’s block, and how can I combat it?

Beginning Writer’s Answer Book, edited by Jane Friedman

Ask twenty writers what causes writer’s block, and you’ll probably get twenty different answers. The causes of writer’s block usually don’t have anything to do with writing, but rather are connected to factors that distract writers, keeping them from concentrating on the craft.

Look at your work and see if you’re actually ready to begin writing; it may be that you haven’t done all your preliminary work yet. Step away from the work and try to look at it objectively. You may not have a clear understanding of how you want it to turn out. You may be writing it one way, when you know subconsciously that it would be better if it were treated some other way.

Some say a writer should make sure he wants to write about his current subject; if you’re trying to make yourself write about something you just don’t like, your mind could be rebelling.

Anxiety about the quality of one’s writing is frequently cited as a cause of writer’s block. Novelist Dean Koontz claims this is easily solved: “Read a novel by a really bad writer whose work you despise, and tell yourself, ‘If this junk can get into print, publishers will fight one another for the rights to my book.’”

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