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

Updated on July 13, 2009
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.

Insecurity

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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    • htodd profile image

      htodd 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks for the great post..Nice

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      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. :)

    • Richard O'Neill profile image

      Richard O'Neill 7 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?

    • profile image

      badcompany99 8 years ago

      Welcome !

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

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

    • profile image

      badcompany99 8 years ago

      I for one am glad you joined ; )

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

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

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      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
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      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

    • trooper22 profile image

      trooper22 8 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.

    • Carmen_Sandiego profile image

      Carmen_Sandiego 8 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. :)

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

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

    • acouasm profile image

      Seymour Clearlly 8 years ago from Las Vegas

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

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

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

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 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: https://hubpages.com/literature/writingprompts

    • NarayanKrishna profile image

      NarayanKrishna 8 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.

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      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. :)

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 8 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.

    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 8 years ago from India

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

      All the best.

    • Christine OKelly profile image

      Christine OKelly 8 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!!