Writer’s block. Fear of the blank page. A thundering terror of brain freeze—an inability to find the next word to put down on the screen or the sheet of paper. But let me give you a different view of writer’s block: it doesn’t exist. It’s a fable writers tell themselves when they feel stuck in a certain passage or when they’re feeling less-than-inspired.
In what other field do you hear of some kind of block? You never hear about a brain surgeon who stands in front of an open skull and says, “I can’t operate today because I have surgeon’s block.” You don’t hear about a mechanic who stands in front of an open hood and says, “You know, I have mechanic’s block and can’t do this right now.” You never hear a world-class athlete at the Olympics and says, “I can’t run today because I have runner’s block.” They do what they have to do because it’s their job, or because their dream is on the line.
Writer’s block is often procrastination; sitting down at your desk to write, you instead find yourself doing one of a hundred other things—binge watching a TV series, reading a book, or playing a game. I’ve had occasion to prefer cleaning the toilet over working on my current story; that says more about the state of my writing than the state of my toilet.
A delicate point to add, but writer’s block has also been somewhat romanticised by writers and non-writers alike. When you say you have writer’s block, people relate to you. You become part of a group of struggling writers. You see yourself as the next Ernest Hemingway, locked in your office in front of a typewriter with crumpled pieces of paper strewn on the floor. There may be some alcohol involved, or maybe some chocolate. To struggle is art, isn’t it?
Sometimes, what presents as writer’s block can actually be fear—fear of ending something or fear of presenting something that isn’t absolutely perfect. But not everything you write is going to be perfect. Not everything you write will be exciting. Not everything you write will even make sense. That’s okay. Writing is a passion, but it also takes practice. If you’re sitting at your computer or with your notebook and feel stuck, write about how you’re feeling. Write about the pen you’re holding, the book you’re writing in. Make up a story about the table or desk on which you’re sitting. It may sound boring, but you might be surprised if your creative juices start flowing. If anything, you’ll be practicing your writing skills.
I’ve heard so many people say writing is difficult. It is if you’re not practicing. Just like anything else in life, it takes hard work and dedication to actually become skilled at something. Writing is no different. Yes, you may be inclined to the written word. Yes, you may be more imaginative than the next person. But that’s not going to make you an amazing writer right off the bat. You have to put in the time and effort to perfect your skill. Write something every day, even if it’s just a paragraph in your journal or a four-line poem on your Facebook page. Just write something. Practice will only make writing easier for you in the long run.
Feeling uninspired? Feeling like you are just not that creative lately? You do not have writer’s block. You just need to change your environment, your routine, your way of thinking. What demolishes the supposed writer’s block? Inspiration and putting one word in front of another, on days when it’s painful as well as days when it’s not.
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© 2018 Matthew Munson
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Thanet-based author Matthew has three novels published by Inspired Quill, is an inveterate blogger, and writing is his passion.