It's enough to make you want to quit.
Writer's block. I don't get it often, but when I do, it can shut me down for weeks at a time. I am (I hope!) coming out of a bout of it right now.
Where does this dreaded phenomenon come from? For me, I think it has one of three origins: Either (1) something isn't working with my manuscript and I can't figure out what, (2) I don't know where to go next with my manuscript or (3) I know where to go but I can't figure out how to get there. (My most recent struggle was a lovely combination of both numbers 1 and 3.)
Many writers hit a block and do quit. They give up writing altogether, or they move on to a new project -- one with shiny new possibilities and no pesky problems -- never to return to give themselves a chance to break through.
But breaking through blocks is part of both the craft and the business of writing. It leads to growth, improvement ... and finished manuscripts. It's hard and it stinks, but it must be done.
The question becomes, how? For me, it means putting my work aside for a while and focusing on other areas of my life, then returning to the manuscript and asking some of the Big Questions: What is this story about? What do I want readers to take away from it? Does what I've written so far support that? What can be cut or added to bring out the heart of my story better? And how do I proceed from here to make sure I am remaining true to my story?
Thomas Edison once said: "Nearly every man who develops an idea works at it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged."
Edison reportedly failed 10,000 times before he made the breakthrough that gave us all light to read by. He clearly was not only a genius, but also wise.
How do you overcome writer's block?