Help For A Writer: Why I Had Writer's Block & How I Overcame It

An almost totally-burned magazine article I found in the garden one day, much like my writing career when I had writer's block.
An almost totally-burned magazine article I found in the garden one day, much like my writing career when I had writer's block.

I joined the Hubpages writing community in June 2007, and for the longest time my writing flatlined as I had trouble putting ideas together to form decent articles. I had no idea why my mind was such a blank whenever I sat in front of the computer to write. I looked at other writers and wondered how they were writing so many articles in such a short time while I only had 13 articles to show after almost two years.

It was not until a few weeks ago, when Teacher Michelle and I were having our usual lunchtime talks, that the truth about why I was having writer's block finally sunk in.


My insecurity came in two forms:

  1. I was insecure about my writing ability. I didn't believe my writing was up to par with the other writers. I was always overly conscious about my grammar and other techical writing stuff that it blocked my ideas from flowing.
  2. I was insecure about my knowledge. I felt like my knowledge on all topics was lacking compared to that of other writers and therefore I wasn't credible enough. Who was I to write about such things?

I now realize that my insecurity stemmed from comparing myself to others. "They write better than I do." "They know more than I do." "I can't compete with them." But it isn't a competition, is it? It isn't a contest to see who writes better or who knows the most. So why was I beating myself up so much?

Unhealthy Ego

I'm ashamed to admit, I have the tendency to act like a know-it-all. Probably because it boosts my ego and makes me feel less insecure. I like the feeling of being superior to others. So I tend to not do things which I think I might not be good at it because it would diminish this feeling of "superiority". Subconsciously, I expected people to think less of me when I didn't excel. So I wrote with perfection in mind. Of course, my writing would always fall short of perfection and I would always end up not writing at all. Hence, every single article I started on always ended up getting dumped in the recycle bin. And I slumped into a long "literary depression".

But so what if I don't know a lot of things? Who cares? It was egotistical of me to think that other people would. I needed to get over myself. And I have. Or at least I'm trying.

Unrealistic Standards

Having a dominantly melancholy personality, I tend to set standards that are too high. And I impose these unrealistic expectations of perfection on myself. When I fail to meet these standards, which would eventually happen, it would then reinforce my feeling of not being as good as other writers. And the vicious cycle of insecurity would begin.

Now I ask myself: Does it really matter if I can't express myself as eloquently as other writers who are native-English speakers? (English is my second language.) Do I really need to make my articles "perfect" before I publish them? Do people really demand that I write "perfect" articles? And I get three big resounding NOs.

Writer's block for me is a psychological battle.  It all goes back to loving and believing in myself.  At last, I have broken free of my writer's block, and I am happy to say that I have written and published four new articles this past week:

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Comments 20 comments

Christine OKelly profile image

Christine OKelly 7 years ago from California

GREAT post Susan! I really got to the 'heart' of writers block with a depth that most other posts on the topic don't explore. I agree, the real issue with writer's block is more about our own insecurities rather than not having something to write about.

Whenever I find myself in that situation, I make a point to find a quite place and ask myself... "what is the worst that can really happen?" "What 'proof' from my past supports or disproves these fears?"

Thanks for sharing your story!!

cashmere profile image

cashmere 7 years ago from India

Glad to see you have taken your fears and insecurities in hand and are writing so well.

All the best.

BrianS profile image

BrianS 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

I am a little in awe of how many ideas and articles everyone seems to come up with as well especially at the moment they are coming in from all directions. So you are right, just need to block it out and do my own thing, at the end of the day that is all anyone can do.

Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

You're right, Christine.  Ideas don't come when one is already criticizing the self before even starting.  And thanks for reading my story. :)

Thanks for the kind words, cashmere. :)

I am amazed by it myself, Brian.  And yes, we just need to do our own thing and stop comparing ourselves to others. :)

NarayanKrishna profile image

NarayanKrishna 7 years ago from The country of Mount Everest

Hi Susan NG, I was in the same situation as you were. I did not understand how people write and post. I tried many times to write and post. It did not worked. Just playing around on the computer and at hubs, looked at other's articles I started one. Friends and colleagues in the hub encouraged me to write some more. I find this is better place to share, exchange ideas and knowledge in all the fields (health, education, science, what not?). I start liking hubs. However I am still not able to understanding anything on AdSense.......What it is and how it works.

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Too true. When I faced mine, it felt like I was facing a boulder on the road. Glad I was able to move around it and found myself writing more too. LOL Congratulations for writing and writing and writing and writing...hehehe

If you need some writing prompts for creative writing ideas, this might help you:

Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Tich. I'm having fun writing and writing and writing. Hehe. :D Those ideas of yours will come in handy, thanks. :)

acouasm profile image

acouasm 7 years ago from Las Vegas

This actually helped me write my first Hub =) Thanks a bunch.

Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Glad to hear that, acouasm. How exactly did it help you write your first hub, if you don't mind my asking? :)

Carmen_Sandiego profile image

Carmen_Sandiego 7 years ago from USA

I see what you mean about perfectionism in writing. I get the same way. My best journals are when I let my hand freeflow and edit later...

And oh yeah, pot helps. :)

trooper22 profile image

trooper22 7 years ago from Chicago

As read this, I am sitting before my PC (and have been for a while) attempting to negotiate a scene in a book that I am writing. Each time I flip over to my manuscript my jaw drops and I start drooling like a fool. Thanks for sharing this, once I am done typing out these words, I'll be back at, and this time I think I'll fight my way through the scene and progress with the rest of the story. I'll edit it later and may cuss a few times for making errors, and writing crap, but at least I'll have made progress and can always edit my work from a better perspective. Thanks again, your new fan.

Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

You sound really serious about your writing, trooper22. :)  Maybe we can all read your book when it's done? :)

And Carmen, you're right about the just letting the thoughts free-flow and editing later. That's where I tend to get stuck, too. I want it perfect the first time I write it. :P

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

You are doing a great job of writing Susan, and your language is a lot better than many for whom English is the primary language! :)

Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Feline Prophet. Affirmation is always good to hear. :)

badcompany99 7 years ago

I for one am glad you joined ; )

Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Aw, BadCo. You're getting into the habit of making me cry! Haha! :P  Seriously though, thanks for the heartfelt words. :)

badcompany99 7 years ago

Welcome !

Richard O'Neill profile image

Richard O'Neill 6 years ago from Thailand

As an aspiring writer myself, after reading some of your articles and seeing how you write, i have to say i'm extremely impressed!! You write better than a lot of native speakers and always with heart and soul. Your personality oozes from your words which is one of the signs of a naturally gifted writer in my opinion, although this is a rather late comment judging from the comments above. You've probably gone on to be more successful by now. Cats!! I love them too. In England i have 6 babies (my name for them)and i love how affectionate and graceful they are. Anyway,finding this article couldn't have come at a better time because i have a couple of great ideas for ebooks that i want to write. So thanks for this. By the way, have you heard about the Ezinearticles marathon? I've only just joined the marathon so i'm not 100% sure of the rules but basically it starts tomorrow and goes till august, by which time we are supposed to have written 100 articles! I can't wait, as it's another step on the growth journey. Are you in the marathon? If not, why not try it?

Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thank you for the uplifting words, Richard. They're really inspiring. :) That's funny, I call my cats my babies too. And they act like babies in a lot of ways! :D I haven't heard about the marathon, but I'm pretty sure I don't want that kind of pressure. Hehe. You have fun though. :)

htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Thanks for the great post..Nice

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