I've been working on my novel Voodoo Queen for over a year now, and I keep getting stuck. It boggles my mind because it's never happened to me before. I always believed writer's block stems from a lack of discipline and focus. If you sit in front of a blank screen long enough, eventually the words will come.
The mind is more complicated than that, and creativity is especially fickle. Sometimes interior things get in the way, like attitude and perspective.
After tearing my hair out for a while, I've finally narrowed down on what is getting in my way:
It was easy to write when I was in school and my homework was done. It was easy to write when I had a full-time job that wasn't very demanding. Now I'm a homemaker with a 10-month-old baby, and when I take time to write, there are negative consequences. Dishes don't get done. Meals don't get cooked. Errands don't get run. My baby gets less attention.
How do I justify taking time out of my busy day to work on a book that might not go anywhere? I decided to work on my book just when I had extra time. Which was never.
I've made peace with the fact that my creativity doesn't let me simply sit down and write a chapter. If I restrict myself to just one project, I will get stuck every time. I have to be free to work on whatever comes to me, whether that be blogging, journal writing, working on a different book, or whatever.
I had three ideas that have really worked for me. First, if I plan my day around writing, I don't have to feel guilty because I know I'll have enough time for what's on my to-do list. Sometimes that means putting a thing or two off until tomorrow, but as long as I plan ahead, that isn't a problem.
Second, I do the thing on my list that are the least appealing first. There are certain jobs I'm going to make time for no matter what. Cooking dinner, for instance, or buying diapers. Then there are phone calls, home-improvement projects, and (sadly) my book that I can put off indefinitely. Those are the things I need to do first.
The most important thing, however, is to remember that all the writing I do is important. Even if I'm just fiddling with some poems. If I separate in my mind the writing that matters from the writing that doesn't, I'll get frustrated and blocked.
Every word I write matters... every word you write matters. If we could all just remember that, we can defeat our guilt.