You can start open battles in the streets of writing forums by claiming that writer’s block doesn’t exist. It’s not exactly that I’m going to do that…
Everyone who blogs about writing should discuss writer’s block sooner or later. Sometimes I blog about writing, so I’ve decided this includes me.
I’ve avoided writing about writer’s block until now because I haven’t known what to say, but today I sat down to write a blog post and drew a blank, so voila!
(Okay there was the post about solutions to fantasy writer’s block, but that doesn’t count.)
If you head to certain parts of the web, you’ll see writers arguing about whether writer’s block exists at all. The arguments tend to go something like this:
Blocked writer: I have a really bad case of writer’s block. I haven’t been able to write anything in two months, and my characters feel so abandoned they’re packing their bags to emigrate. Can anyone help me?
Believer 1: When I get writer’s block it helps me to work on something different. Why don’t you give your WIP a rest for a while and write a few short stories?
Believer 2: yea that works 4 me to. and also interviewing my characters bcuz you just need to write something without editing or obsessing about every word
Believer 1: You could try reading a book you enjoy. Maybe your creative juices need replenishing.
Blocker writer: Thanks for the suggestions. I do have a book I’ve been meaning to read, so I’ll try to stop stressing about not writing for a bit and see if reading inspires me.
Non-believer: That’s a terrible idea. Writer’s block doesn’t exist. I’ve never had it because I always eat lots of fibre. All so-called writer’s block is is an excuse to be lazy. Stop making excuses and go and write.
Mod: This is a forum for supporting people who are struggling with writer’s block, not a place to debate whether or not it exists.
Non-believer: But writer’s block doesn’t exist and all this coddling is destroying people’s ability to write by turning them into special snowflakes who can only write when inspiration strikes, and that’s going to make it impossible for them to be professional writers.
Mod: [Non-believer] has been blocked from this forum for repeatedly refusing to follow the rules.
You know, I’m sure there was a point to this.
That’s right. I was trying to make myself look like less of a jerk when I point out that I’ve never had writer’s block and I’m not entirely sure I believe it exists.
Don’t get me wrong.
I fully believe writing can be hard, especially when you don’t have clear in your mind what you’re trying to write.
I fully believe other problems such as life crises and mental health issues can render you temporarily incapable of writing.
But none of these are mystical conditions that suddenly and inexplicably make writers unable to tap their fingers on a keyboard and make words appear on their screens. (Admittedly, a flat battery will do that.)
Carpal tunnel syndrome might have this effect, but dictation programs have come a long way, so that’s not an excuse any more. I suppose you could lose your voice at the same time, in which case you have my sympathy and hopes for a quick recovery.
I have days when I spend an hour writing a sentence and then deleting it, but not because I have writer’s block.
It’s usually because I’m trying to write a scene that I haven’t figured out. The rest of the time it’s because I’m trying to jam too much into a scene that doesn’t belong there. (Am I the only one who does this?)
I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have any of the answers. Maybe writer’s block is genuine disorder of the brain caused by too much of hormone x or not enough of hormone y. I have no idea.
What do you think? Is writer’s block real? Have you had it? Have you figured out any strategies to get over it?
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