Deadly Sins: Writer's Block & Workaholism
There are two extremes among writers: those who are completely shut down by stress and those who put themselves on the turbo-treadmill and desperately start running. Most of us fall somewhere between the two on the continuum, but gravitate more to one end or the other.
How do you know where you fall?
1. When you hear negative feedback or face a career-related setback, are you more likely to
A. feel "blocked" for days, weeks, or more or
B. dig in and double your output, thinking I'll show those sorry *#@ety $%^&!?
2. Do you more often
A. avoid writing by doing chores (cleaning, financing, auto maintenance) or
B. avoid chores by writing... and writing and writing?
3. Do you
A. accept every diversion that comes your way when you should be writing, or
B. do you habitually deny yourself exercise, friend/family social time, or reading for pleasure in order to write more than ten hours per day? (Deadline crunches don't count! Everybody pushes themselves then, but doing this longterm with no respite leads to a Very Bad Place -- and anti-anxiety prescriptions.)
4. Do you
A. have trouble staying at your computer or
B. feel guilty enjoying outings, movies, trips, or books that are unrelated to your writing career?
5. Do you
A. struggle to sit down at your desk each morning or
B. wake up in the middle of the night, bubbling with either anxiety or ideas and then get up to write?
The more A's you have, the more prone you are to writer's block. If this is a big problem for you, I highly recommend you read THE WAR OF ART by Stephen Pressfield, which is the best book I've ever read for helping writers (or anyone) overcome "resistance." THE ARTIST'S WAY by Julia Cameron is also recommended, particularly her recommendations on journaling and exercises to help you bash through blocks.
If you have mostly B's, you tend to be a workaholic. You need to focus on finding more balance in your life and set aside time (make a schedule if you have to; put it in your Day Planner!) for things such as (your choice) spiritual, social, family, or physical development. THE ARTIST'S WAY by Julia Cameron is also an excellent resource, especially her suggestions on taking walks out of doors and setting up an "artist's date" with yourself at least monthly to help "refill the well" of your creativity.
If you're out of balance in this area, you're not living fully. And in the end, that's a heck of a lot more important than this business's fleeting bee-stings to the ego or some kind of manic need to out-achieve every hyper-competitive author on the planet. You owe it to yourself to keep in mind that your success or failure as a writer in no way equates to your success or failure as a human being.
So get over yourself, get out of your own way, and try to have a little fun along the way.