Quick Writing Tips #8 – Is Writer’s Block A Real Thing?

No. Get back to work.

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What? You want more information than that? Okay. Fine.

Writers Aren’t Unique, Writer’s Block Isn’t Real

Have you ever heard of a sculptor who just couldn’t sculpt? Or a baseball player who forgot how to hit a fast ball? Or a nuclear physicist who just couldn’t bring herself to do math any more? Of course not. So a writer who Just. Can’t. Write. does not exist. Writers write.

However… everyone gets in a slump. Sculptors lose their inspiration, baseball players just can’t seem to connect, and physicists get bogged down in details. Writers can get into a slump too. But, unlike other professions, writers have invented a reason to wallow in the slump, and an excuse to abandon the thing they love most. “Writer’s block.”

Fran Liebowitz notwithstanding, you can’t make a living NOT being a writer.

Having A ‘Block’ Means Something’s Wrong

All writers face resistance. All of them. If you talk to a writer who says all his work is effortless and nothing but peak flow, he’s lying, and not even really trying hard at that. We all – ALL – have better times and worse times. Sometimes the muse is at your shoulder, sometimes she’s gone to the convenience store for some smokes. You don’t have any control over when a slump happens.

But when it does happen, it means something’s wrong. And that something isn’t necessarily your writing. Being a writer, like being any accomplished professional, takes enormous concentration. It’s draining, mentally and physically. When you resist working on the thing that gives you joy, you need to realize that something is broken.

Figure Out What’s Broken To Fix The Block

The ‘something’ that’s wrong could be anything. It could be your narrative – this is most common for me. If I’m resisting working on my writing it’s because I’m uncomfortable with the way things are going. Maybe I don’t like the plot twist, or maybe I don’t like the actual words on the page, or maybe I realize I have no idea where the story goes after that difficult part.

Sometimes the problem could be in your life. Maybe you have money troubles, or partner troubles, or health troubles, or you see the sorry state of our culture and can’t help but despair. We’ve all been there. This too shall pass. When you figure out what’s the root cause of your resistance, you can sweep it away.

Name It And Shame It

Once you figure out what the problem is – which may take you some time, I admit – call it out. And I mean out loud. Verbally. When you name the thing that’s holding you back you gain power over it. When you have power over it, it no longer has power over you.

Often, when you name the problem and call it out, your resistance will disappear. At least that’s how it works for me. You’ll realize how silly it was to let that one thing dictate how you work at your passion And it’ll make dealing with the next time (there will be a next time, guaranteed) that much easier.

Now get back to work.

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