I originally wrote this post over a year ago. However, it feels more relevant now than it did then. Maybe because I’m still struggling to carve out time to write, maybe because I know I’m not the only one writing less than I’d like, maybe because it’s close to the end of the year. Who knows, maybe me from the past wrote out this post as a reminder to my future self that writer’s block is something of a fallacy and needs to be dealt with head-on rather than worried about in a quiet, hands-wringing fashion. Anyway, here’s what I had to say about it, and I feel it’s still true:
I know for a fact that writer’s block doesn’t exist.
It’s a phantasmal construct, a conjuration of minds desperate to make words appear on pages but struggling with an inability to do so. Every writer, from the best-selling novelist to the mommy blogger to the spinner of rhetoric deals with it now and again. The desire to write is there, hungry and unplacated, but the words are not. They simply do not appear.
Those are the times when a writer is tempted to reach for the “writer’s block” excuse.
The fact of the matter is that many factors can contribute to a lack of words. Too many distractions. Not enough rest. Too much caffiene. Or not enough. Hunger, frustration, despair and doubt. Tangled emotions can wad up in the neurons of the writer and, yes, block the flow of creativity.
It’s the closest writer’s block ever comes to being real.
But along with the term comes the notion that it’s wished into being by malevolent forces. A writer can believe that if writer’s block is indeed the cause for a lack of productivity, there’s little that can be done about it. Here’s proof that you couldn’t be more wrong.
That’s another thing that can cause a writer to believe in the so-called “block”. A sense of futility. It can seem like there’s no new stories to tell. An article on politics or gaming or frighteningly effective sex toys can appear redundant. This very post on writer’s block feels a bit like repetition.
Just because a particular story has been told doesn’t mean you can’t tell it differently. Maybe even better. You won’t know until you try, and the alternative is making nothing happen at all.
In the words of XKCD, fuck that shit.
We all have bad days. Everybody struggles. Not every moment is going to be full of the creative juices flowing freely from your brainpan through the dream-tubes in your arms to the paper or keyboard or tablet or paint-stained wall.
And you know what? That’s okay.
What’s not okay is letting it stop you from doing something about it.
Maybe you won’t write today. Maybe you feel your drawings suck. Maybe you think you suck hard at something you enjoy or want to excel in doing. Welcome to the human race, now stop beating yourself up over not being perfect.
Let the issue drop. Stop worrying about it. Gnaw no more on your fingernails and insides. Take a break. Grab some food. Make yourself a drink. Find something pleasurable to do. Go the fuck outside.
When you get back, the work will still be waiting for you. But you will no longer feel ill-equipped to deal with it.
You will, instead, kick its ass.
If writer’s block did exist, consider sentiments like this your sledgehammer. I’ll happily help you swing it.
December 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm
I needed this today. Thanks.