Is it writer’s block or are you suffering from information overload?

Information overload or writer's block??!One of the traps you fall into while deep in writer’s block is to keep yourself busy researching everything, from the genre you’re writing about, to how to write, to why you can’t.

While you are reading and researching you keep finding people who have already published their first or tenth novel and the advice they all spout is “Write every day. You must write every day.”

They might be correct. You know they probably are. But you still want to smack them for saying it, because you can’t write! That’s the problem! What part of writer’s BLOCK don’t they get?!

But are you suffering from writer’s block or is it information overload?

Considering most of my non-fiction books are on speed-reading and information overload, I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve fallen foul of an overload funk a few times. Here are some of the symptoms…

  • If you feel buzzed and happy until you sit down at your desk to write – at which point the energy in your body drains into a miserable puddle around your feet… you probably have information overload.
  • If you can’t write a sentence without feeling compelled to dig out every fact needed to write the next sentence, you might have an issue with information overload. For example: Your character picks up a gun. You’ve seen a gun in the movies, perhaps even held one, but you don’t know anything about guns, so you shut down your novel to pick up a dozen gun magazines, go to a gun show and join a shooting range. You are most likely addicted to information overload (it’s a great excuse for not being able to write).
  • If your novel is so full of facts that you’ve lost the story but don’t care because you’re sure your readers will love the details as much as you, then you’re suffering from information overload.
  • If you feel that no matter how much you read and study, you will never know enough, then you’re suffering from information overload.

Quick tips on how to get out of the research trap, escape writer’s block (!!) and get on with your writing:

ONE: Ask how much information your CHARACTERS need, and find out that and only that.
TWO: If you’re writing on a subject you know nothing about, write it from the point of view of a character who knows nothing. See what happens.
THREE: Limit your research to an hour a day – maximum. When time is limited you’ll get smarter about how you do it.

No matter how great your facts are, if your plot is a mess and your characters are weak, no one will get past your first beautifully crafted page. If someone really wants to know the entire history of China or the metal make-over of an AK47, they’ll Google it themselves.

Dump the research today and just write.