The Persistent Myth

A usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work.*

Yes, writer’s block. Many people ask me how I deal with it.

But I don’t even believe in it. Barring a permanent physical or mental disability, nothing can ever stop you from writing. You might think you’ve been temporarily affected, but . . .

Can you write the alphabet?

Can you write down the conversations of people around you?

Can you write the first words that come to mind when you think about your project?

Then you don’t have writer’s block.

And just because you’ve hit a sticky spot in your writing doesn’t mean you’re facing writer’s block, either. Not knowing how to get from Point A to Point B is a common occurrence. If, every time you’re challenged, you say that the seeming inability to overcome said challenge originates from “writer’s block,” then you are training yourself to give up every time you encounter an obstacle. That is a horrendous habit to pick up if you wish to complete rather than just begin your writing. Instead, actively seek a way out of the bind, even if it seems futile. Don’t wait until some nebulous mental plague relinquishes its capricious grip on you. That day will never come, because there is no such thing.

Some writers will say, “But I really just can’t write anything right now.” Well, they can write. What they are really saying is, “I can’t write anything good right now.” Ha! Who thinks even Tolstoy and Dickens churned out brilliant first drafts? Not a single person in all of human history has been known for consistently producing excellent, one-draft copy. Please don’t think you should be creating quality copy in the first draft.

The delusion that one or two write-throughs will make good copy is common. I’m ashamed to say that for several of my writing classes in college, I often wrote one draft of an assignment, then re-read it for typos. That was it. I thought I was so brilliant that I didn’t need to try any harder. My teachers’ comments showed otherwise.

We writers love entertaining fanciful ideas, but with writer’s block we’ve gone too far. No mysterious mental blockages descend on anyone in any other profession or hobby. Call it what it is: a challenge, and keep writing, even if what you’re churning out seems like nothing more than nonsense. You will be a better writer for it.


14 thoughts on “The Persistent Myth

  1. Wonderful blog. All you say is so true. And sometimes great works (or even fairly decent ones) take months and years to perfect. In this rush-around world, we are too fast to send things off for publication and wonder why we are rejected. And writers block — you are so right. There is always SOMETHING you can write about.

    • Thanks so much, Claudia. I’m glad this is resonating with people. Write, write, write! Although I’ve been thinking, watch me come down with a case of writer’s block where I can’t even write the alphabet. Lol!

  2. I’ve never understood this writers block thing. It always strikes me that people use the phrase simply to sound important. Surely it simply means that “they’ve got nothing to say” – and if they’ve got nothing to say, they should stop pretending they’ve got something to say. Go weed the garden or go shopping or something – but quit saying over and over that there’s got nothing to say!

  3. Perhaps it speaks more of a deep feeling of not wanting to write any more in that moment it is said.
    Wouldn’t want to miss a time when you’re brain is working at it’s best by forcing yourself to write any old thing. Even corrections thereafter will follow the vein of what you wrote when you forced it.

    • Our viewpoints differ, but I greatly appreciate you sharing the way you see things. You view your writing as precious, and I manhandle mine a bit. Correct me if I’m wrong 🙂

      • Fair to say. You have a precision I can’t achieve even if I were to use numerous redrafts. With better results it might be fair to say more people should take a leaf from your book than mine.

  4. I prefer to think of writer’s block as being when your imaginary friends (characters) won’t play with you. So, you simply go and play with your other imaginary friends until the others decide to play nicely 🙂

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