As a writer, I’m all-too familiar with Writer’s Block. That sudden, insurmountable inability to produce any sort of written content. It doesn’t matter the genre, length, or plot—without warning, I hit a massive wall and just stare blankly at my computer with my fingers hovering over the keys. I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling.
However, a new feeling that I find myself faced with is Reader’s Block. I like to think of Reader’s as the cousin of Writer’s Block; they’re tangentially related and they’re both annoying. Except Reader’s Block isn’t about writing words down and progressing a story or plot. Reader’s is when you find yourself unable to read.
Now, this isn’t about suddenly becoming illiterate. Reader’s Block, as I experience it, is more an inability to pick up a book and read it for any extended length of time. It doesn’t matter that I have nearly half a dozen books either unstarted or unfinished. It doesn’t matter that some are sci-fi some are fantasy and others are nonfiction. I pick up any of these books, open it, and I cannot read.
The words run into my eyes and then flee straight out the back of my head. I read the words individually, but nothing sticks. I read sentences, paragraphs, whole pages—nothing. There’s a weight, an exhaustion behind my eyes and even just looking at the page of a book makes me want to take a nap. Like Writer’s Block, where I find myself just staring at the blinking cursor: When I can’t read, I just stare at my book.
I often find, coincidentally, that Reader’s Block is often onset by reading a book that I’m no longer interested in reading. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m stubborn and I’ve never DNF’d a book. Frequently, I’ll find myself disinterested or unable to read when I haven’t yet finished a book that I’m not enjoying. (Yet I still struggle through!)
So what to do about Reader’s Block? There have been times where I have attempted to cure the block by acquiring more books but this really only succeeds in increasing my To-Read pile. Sometimes the easiest solution is just to take a break; I’ve done this with writing every so often when I find that I cannot write even a single sentence.
I recently overcame a block by doing something I hardly ever do—I started a different book. This is not a remedy I employ very often because it usually ends up with me neglecting the book that I haven’t finished.
What do you do to combat Reader’s Block? Leave a comment below with your favorite solutions/cures/remedies!