I want to talk about writer’s block.
You see, I’ve had a theory about writer’s block for quite some time. I’ve yet to be disproven, so until that day, I’m sticking with my theory. If ever I am disproven, then I’ll be the first to hold my hands up.
Ready? Okay. Writer’s block is a way for writers to bullshit their way out of writing.
I’ve spoken to a few writers who claim to have writer’s block in the past. ‘I just can’t write, because I have writer’s block and it won’t let me write.’ I thought about this statement for a while. Firstly, the notion that somebody has something, like a disease or virus, that won’t let them write.
It’s a powerful thought, isn’t it? Imagine some sort of parasitic being in your brain, ‘writer’s blockius’, or whatever you want to dub it. If it’s something alien, like the common cold is when it affects your breathing, then there’s not a lot you can do about it other than just not write and let it pass, is there?
Actually, submitting to this false idea of writer’s block is not only the worst thing you can possibly do, but it’s what your subconscious wants you to do, whether you realise it or not.
I realise I’m getting pretty deep here, but it makes complete sense. By creating and constructing this alien idea of a ‘writer’s block’, and by blaming that alien idea for your lack of writing inspiration, it’s a perfect way to divert from the fact that YOU, the writer, are the problem.
Newsflash: humans blame people for things. They blame objects for things, too. Don’t tell me you’ve never smacked your head against an open cupboard door and for a split second, either blamed a.) the person who you suspect left it open, or b.) the cupboard door itself.
And yet, the blaming of the cupboard door is completely irrational. In a sense, so is the blaming of the other person too. Blame is just the mind’s way of not taking responsibility for a dumb error of judgement. It’s easier to blame everything but yourself.
Think of writer’s block as that cupboard door, or that other person who may or may not have left it open. Your mind uses writer’s block as an excuse; something inanimate to blame when it simply can’t be arsed to write.
I know I may be coming across as a little blunt, but I think it’s a subject that requires bluntness. The fact of the matter is, in 99 out of 100 cases, writer’s block is an excuse. It’s something to blame. If you don’t like this idea and you kick up a fuss because ‘your writer’s block is so real’ and ‘you’ve struggled to conquer it for months’ then I’m sorry but you’re just stuck in a blame cycle.
What to do when you think you have writer’s block
Firstly, remember that writer’s block doesn’t exist. Look at potential reasons in your life why you may not be writing or feeling inspired — perhaps you’re getting in from work later and can’t quite muster up the courage you used to be able to, to write 1,000 words. Or perhaps you’ve hit a dry-ish patch around the middle of your novel, or are overwhelmed by the details.
See something in common with all of these examples? There’s a real problem at the root of them, and it isn’t writer’s block. In case A, it’s fatigue and motivation. The solution? Re-assess your daily writing goals. Case B? You’re getting a very natural fear that your novel isn’t quite what you expected. Your fight or flight mechanism kicks in. It opts to hide its head under the covers and blame something abstract — writer’s block.
If you think you have writer’s block, the next step is to just keep on writing. Get a new playlist if you like listening to music. Change the time of day you write. More often than not, you’re simply getting overwhelmed by the task at hand, or struggling for motivation.
I’m working on a new novel at the moment. Most days I’ve enjoyed writing. Some days, I struggle. What do I do? I just write. Maybe the first half hour will be a nightmare of uncreativity. Maybe I’ll write nothing but crap. But still, I write.
Writer’s block is the greatest hurdle to all authors. It’s what keeps would-be authors in the dreaded ‘aspiring author’ zone. It’s what leaves potential masterpieces stuck at 40,000 words and locked in a cabinet. What a shame, considering writer’s block doesn’t even exist.
Have you ever encountered what you believe to be writer’s block? Do you believe it exists? What did you do to conquer it?
Image courtesy of Rennett Stowe via Flickr