Writer’s block is a myth perpetuated by people who don’t really want to write.
And I really don’t like when people ask me if I ever “get it,” as if it’s contagious. In some ways, I think it is. People talk about it too much and infect others with their ideas of this mysterious and loathsome “writer’s block.”
Maybe I’m thinking of the block all wrong. I’m not sure at all what it means. Does it mean the person can’t sit in a chair and write? Are their hands broken? Is their brain injured? Or does it mean they can’t write as well as they want? Does it mean that writing’s not easy?
Hey – wait – let’s hold on to that one: Writing is not easy?!
Of course, at times, it’s not easy! Sometimes the scene isn’t quite right or the dialogue is inauthentic or the words aren’t laying out as smooth and beautiful as we’d like. Does that mean we lay down the ivory pipe, get up from our Italian baroque seventeenth century carved desk, retire our gray wool writing jacket with the patches on the elbows, and lounge for the rest of the day waiting for this “block” to pass?
None of it’s real!
The desk, the jacket, or the block – these are images people use to perpetuate the myth that writing is some magical gift that is laid down upon us and is taken away just as easily.
I’m not saying the ability to ribbon words rhythmically and meaningfully isn’t a gift – but it is work.
Now there’s the word we need to use. The only thing, perhaps, people are being blocked from is WORK.
A writer needs time. The lack of time can inhibit starting or finishing – but we make time. Many writers (Vonnegut, Angelou) woke up early. I used to be one of those people who said – oh, no, I need my sleep. But then I decided I wanted to write more than I needed extra sleep. Writers, for centuries, have had no choice but to get up early or stay up late in order to produce.
And there’s that word again. Work. Let’s get to it, ladies and gentlemen, no matter how gifted you are, writing is work, writing is commitment. And there’s the other word so many people are afraid of: commitment.
If you want to be a writer it takes work and it takes commitment. The real work of writing is to commit yourself to it, to sit your ass in that chair, at that desk, or dining table, or in the corner closet, and write. Sometimes nothing is going to come out right. And that’s when you keep working, or you take a break, go grab a cuppa and get back to it. Writer’s commit themselves to time and action, whether it’s one hour a day or eight hours a day. And sometimes things come out well and sometimes they’re a struggle.
Imagine writing as a job. If you want to be successful, can you give up the moment it gets challenging? Can you imagine your plumber calling you and saying, “I just can’t come today, I have plumber’s block”?
If something you’ve started has stunted, write something else, take it in a different direction, write an angry letter to one of the characters insisting they do what you want them to, then let them write one to you.
Let’s be honest about what writer’s block really is –
- it’s procrastination;
- it’s distraction;
- it’s fear of rejection.
I do believe people go through periods where they’re not as productive, or they have some psychological issues blocking them from releasing their ideas. These problems can be solved – therapy.
If you want to take part in the myth – “oh I can’t write today!”
If you want to perpetuate the myth – “What do you do when you get blocked?”
That’s fine. However, Do not bring your kind of negativity to me – “Do you ever get blocked?” Because I don’t want to hear it; I don’t want to be a part of it; and I certainly don’t want you attempting to infect me with your dis-ease.
Now – sit that ass in that chair and WRITE something. 😉 Good luck.