People ask me all the time whether writer’s block is real, or if it’s some made-up thing, like Santa Claus or affordable health care. And honestly, it’s not a settled issue. There are plenty of writers who will tell you Writer’s Block doesn’t exist, that it’s a fancy term for procrastination, that what you really need to do is Stop Whining and Sit Down and Write, Dammit!!!!
Okay, so some writers are cranky…
Well, I’m a writer, and I’m pretty old. And I write a lot. If it’s a weekday, I’m probably writing something for someone else that’s gonna help me to eat and pay my bills – or I’m writing something about my business or my services, which is also supposed to help me eat and pay my bills. Or maybe I’m writing something creative, that means something to me, as a person.
Okay, not super likely, but it could happen.
Anyway, I’m a professional writer who is also a regular human being – I’m not Elizabeth Gilbert or anything – and I’m telling you, OF COURSE, writer’s block is real. It’s real because I deal with it all the time. I can’t remember getting through a week where I didn’t hit the wall at least once. It’s basically an occupational hazard.
In fact, not only is writer’s block real, it comes in different flavors. The most common – the vanilla of writer’s blocks, if you will, is when I know what I need to write, and I have all the information I need to write it, but I can’t get past the first sentence. I keep writing it over and over, and every time, I hate it. So I try again. And suddenly an hour has gone by and all I’ll have written is “People ask me all the time…”
I know why that happens. It comes from judging – from being so critical of what I’m doing that I stop myself from doing anything.
Then there’s the kind of writer’s block where I get an idea – usually in bed or in the bathtub or some equally convenient locale. And the idea will seem crystal clear – I’ll get the language and the tone and even some whole sentences, all ready to go. And I’ll run to my computer as fast as I can, sometimes wrapped in a towel (!) and sit down and open a document…
…and it’ll be gone.
Whatever I had in my head that convinced me this particular idea was worth writing in the first place vanishes into thin air. Maybe it was never really there in the first place?
Another favorite is when I just can’t get motivated. Sometimes, for some reason, writing actually feels physically exhausting, like running a marathon, or rolling a boulder up a hill. Except it doesn’t burn any calories, or even count as exercise – which makes it that much worse…
That’s the kind of writer’s block I think those grumpy “Just Write” writers are talking about. And I’m sorry, sometimes I can’t force it. Especially if you want what I’m writing to be any good…
Anyway, by now I think I’ve proved my point (go me!) – and that is, writer’s block is a real thing. Which brings me to the good news. Since it is a real thing, there are also real things you can do to get past it. Some of which I wrote down in a little free report thingy called The Positively True, Actual Professional Writer’s Guide to Beating Writer’s Block. It details the steps I go through to get over writer’s block, it’s FREE – and you can download it here – right NOW!
So you really can Stop Whining and Sit Down and Write. Dammit.