Since I was eleven years old, my dream has been to write. Whether it was screenplays, novels, or articles, I wanted to write something that would change the world for the better. Something that would honor my Heavenly Father. That’s why I wanted to study journalism, why I leaped at the chance to join both the college newspaper and Inkwell Magazine.
I just have a slight problem—a terminal case of writer’s block. And when I say it’s a terminal case, I’m not exaggerating. It doesn’t matter how inspired I am, how much time I have, or how many resources are at my disposal. Writer’s block undermines my confidence in every story I want to tell. It’s like a nagging voice, whispering doubts and questions into my mind until I’m exhausted, and then I don’t want to work on the story anymore.
In the past, my strategy for overcoming my writer’s block has been to write about my writer’s block. I don’t like to do this often, but it usually works—I’ve written two articles on that topic already. I really didn’t want to write a third one, but Inkwell’s theme this month was “Defeat”—and what comes to a writer’s mind first when he thinks of defeat? Writer’s block, of course. Though I tried to explore another angle to the theme, I came up empty, reluctantly sitting down on Thursday night to write another piece about my writer’s block. I thought the story would come easily, just as the others had.
This time, it didn’t.
Friday came, and I was nowhere near finished. In fact, I hadn’t even started yet. After hours of false starts and staring at a blank screen, I was wondering what in the world could be wrong. Yes, every writer struggles with writer’s block at some point. But what about when you can’t even write an article about writer’s block? What is a writer supposed to do then?
I searched every nook and cranny in my mind for inspiration, but all in vain. I prayed, begging God to give me something to work with. I tried every writer’s trick I could think of, like discarding old drafts, starting new drafts, and combining drafts together. Nothing was working. Eventually, I had to ask my editor for an extension to finish the article. She graciously extended my deadline to Monday, and I continued working on the piece. By the end of the day, I had decided to discard most of my prior work in favor of a fresh start.
By Saturday night, I finally had the workings of an article I could be satisfied with. But where was it going? How was it supposed to turn out in the end? Once more, all of my nagging insecurities came back to haunt me again. My old nemesis worked overtime to stop me; I began to question whether the story had a point, or if anyone would want to read it. Anxious questions came to my mind:
What happens if I don’t finish before the deadline? What if I lose my job with the magazine?
What if I’m really a fake, a pretender trying to be something that’s he’s not?
Why did I pick journalism as my major? If I can’t write a short article for a college magazine, why would I ever want to write for the rest of my life?
I began to question all of my life choices up until now. Perhaps, I thought, I should give up writing and switch majors. There’s no shame in that, and I could always go to culinary school. At least chefs have job security, don’t they? For a moment, it seemed as though my writer’s block was about to win.
Yet for some reason, I continued to write.
It was slow going, and I’m sure I procrastinated more than I should have. But by God’s grace, I didn’t give up on the article. And on that Saturday night it was finally completed.
There were times when I wanted to give up on this story. Writing can be a gut-wrenching, ego-crushing experience, and I certainly have other, less painful things to do with my time. So why did I keep at it?
During this journey, I was reminded of some advice my mother gives me every time I complain about my writer’s block. When I don’t know what to write, she encourages me to pray that God will direct my writing. Then the words will come when I’m supposed to write. This advice may sound old-fashioned, and I’ve lost track of how many times Mom has repeated it to me. But it’s good advice nonetheless, and I’m trying to follow it as I continue my journey as a writer.
Ultimately, all of my gifts are from my Heavenly Father. I believe that God wants me to be a writer: He encouraged me to follow this path in my childhood, opened the doors for me to study journalism, and gave me the opportunity to write for the college paper and for Inkwell. If this is where He wants me, then what is writer’s block to Him?
It's taken me years, but I finally see that God has never let me down in the past. I know that God has brought me safely to the place where I am now, and I know that I can trust him with my future. Whether I continue to write or not, I will not be defeated as long as He guides my steps. I will not fear my writer’s block because He has conquered greater obstacles than this.
Perhaps you’re facing an insurmountable challenge this month. You know that you’re where God wants you to be, but nothing is going the way you planned. You’re fresh out of ideas, and you want to quit. Perhaps you’ve been praying for guidance, but help isn’t coming exactly when you want it to. I want to encourage you to not give up—God will be with you every step of the way. And when God is with you, help always comes at the just the right time.