Writer’s Block – Real Problem or Mere Myth?
Let’s immediately get something out of the way, I can’t stand the term “writer’s block.” Perhaps it’s the connotations that come with the word block. I think of words like “blockade” and maybe the closest phrase, “mental block.” This conjures up images of total isolation and permanence. Because of this, the answer to the proposed question is that I tend to think of “writer’s block” as essentially a myth. Or, maybe even an excuse to be lazy and procrastinate.
Don’t get me wrong, some pages a lot easier than others. But, if you grind it out, you always get through the tough ones. Sometimes, it is even necessary to walk away. I’ll often go workout or take a shower so that I can think about what’s slowing me down. Most of the time, I have it figured out by the time I’m back in front of the laptop. It just takes some mental wrestling. Typically, that fight makes it all better anyway.
Occasionally, an artist just needs inspiration. This can be obtained from any number of sources. Do whatever it takes: A walk in the woods, a lengthy prayer, some journaling at the beach, or, maybe you need the inspiration that another artist can provide – a song with a similar feeling to the one you’re trying to write about. Perhaps I’ll do a post on inspirations for writing down the road.
For now, just know that you’re not alone when you hit a page that causes you fits. We all go through that. It’s one of the reasons I struggle with rules that writer’s often put on themselves. I’m sure it helps some. But, for me, it feels unrealistic. Rules and boundaries can stimulate creativity. But, they can also stifle it.
I happen to be naturally self-disciplined. So, I need to give myself freedom. It’s far more helpful than boxing myself in would be. But, that’s not true for everyone. I know a lot of writers that demand 10 pages a day from themselves. I can’t do that. Today, 20 pages might pour out of me and tomorrow it could be an excruciating exercise in self-torture to crank out 5. I think that’s okay. The pace for writing each chapter or scene is bound to be different.
As long as the inconsistent pace doesn’t become an excuse, I’m fine with some days being more difficult and seeming less productive than others. Some of those “less productive” days, for me, have paradoxically been the most productive because I’ve written the least but I’ve also written the best. Every writer is different. Every piece of writing is different. Find your own balance of freedom and boundaries. Figure out what works for you and helps you accomplish your goals.
In the end, the grind is part of the process and it’s the quality of the work that matters most. At least, that’s true for me. That’s why I tend to think of “writer’s block” as little more than a myth.
September 12, 2017 (re-posted with permission from cselston.com)