Writer’s Block doesn’t exist.
Lesson 5 / Think like a Writer / One Simple Injunction
Look at that title again > Writer’s Block doesn’t exist.
I’m speaking heresy in the writing community.
Do you know someone who claims to suffer from Writer’s Block? Have you yourself ever said, “I’m blocked. I can’t write anything.”
I am hear to tell you that Writer’s Block is an IMPOSSIBILITY.
Let’s do a couple of definitions to start.
Writer’s Block = to be unable to put words on the page.
Heresy = opinion contrary to generally accepted beliefs.
I’m heretical because I believe it is impossible to suffer from Writer’s Block.
I can hear the clamor for beheading.
To be blocked is to be unable to put words on the page. No matter what, we can do that.
The words may not be the ones we want to write, but they’re still words.
Artists can paint. They may not be painting what they want to. They may hate what’s on the canvas. It’s boring and useless, they may think, drivel rather than art, gimmick rather than truth. But they can apply color to the canvas. That’s painting.
You may think you’re blocked, but you can compose a FB message or a tweet or an email. You can write a blog, even if in your mind it’s boring and useless, drivel rather than art, gimmick rather than truth.
The Truth about Writer’s Block
Truth survives gimmickry.
Artists can re-paint. They can change perspective or techniques or even style. They can paint for fun or for anger, to share laughs or to anticipate burning, a ritual bonfire of the drivel. Every stroke of the brush moves them out of the stoppage they found themselves in.
The writers’ truth? We also survive gimmickry. We can re-write. Those boring, useless, driveling words? We can apply a new viewpoint or setting or changed outcome. We can toss off a quick note or pen a diatribe, share it for laughs or get the fire out of our blood, a burning of what angers us and never needs to enter the sunshine. Every keystroke on the laptop moves us out of the stoppage we find ourselves in.
When you’re a writer, you have to become halfway-decent at self-analysis.
Self-analysis helps us develop our characters. We look at our foibles and weaknesses (and those of other people) and use those guides to block out characters’ flaws and sins.
Self-analysis can guide us out of that horrid thing people call Writer’s Block.
If we block anything, it should be the petty upsets of life. We learn to admit when we’re wrong and keep moving ahead. When we find ourselves dug into deep holes, we have to figure out ways to climb out.
Whether we’re writing or living.
And we constantly look for ways to improve. We may attend conferences and seminars, but we can teach ourselves 10 months of the year. We spend one month on vacation. The other month is for those widely spaced days when we kick and scream at the world we’ve created.
Calling the “Block” What It Is
When we find ourselves unable to work, we need to diagnose the problem. It’s not Writer’s Block. We can write. We can put words onto the page.
It’s not the words that are the problem. It’s the project we’re working on. And our attitude toward that project.
We need to diagnose the problem in order to determine the solution.
I think we have three distinct writer’s maladies to diagnose.
First, let’s diagnose with a short quiz. Look for the quiz on September 20.
Throughout October, I’ll detail each diagnosis, starting with the easiest and ending on Halloween with the true monster diagnosis.
Meanwhile, if you truly think you have Writer’s Block ::
Here are three BRIEF cure-alls. Take one cure-all & don’t call me in the morning. 😉
~~ Go write an email just saying “Hello. I was thinking about you. I think we need to get together for coffee.”
Don’t back out. Go for coffee.
~~ Write an angry poem and burn it afterward.
Don’t back out. Burn it.
~~ Sit in front of a keyboard, toss out a bunch of words, and hit delete.
Don’t back out. Delete.
> The key to all three of these: They serve as proof that you can still put words on the page. Proof that you don’t have Writer’s Block.
Your Muse will be appalled. Ignore her weeping.
Your Imp of Mischief will shout with glee. Laugh with him.
Celebrate words that don’t have a purpose.
And you’ll start writing tomorrow.
Remember, we’re learning to Think like a Pro about our writing.
- Pros have deadlines. They have to put out product, no matter what, or they don’t get paid. While they know their necessary daily output, they also schedule in a cushion that covers any disruptions.
- They learn to write every day–always remembering that re-writing is available if it’s boring or useless or drivel.
- Pros use models and patterns that others have developed. They have a process that works for them, but they are perfectly willing to shake up that process if they realize changes are necessary.
- Structure helps them understand the size of the project, the major units of the project, and the smaller elements inside each major unit. They consider the major structure (plot) and the smaller elements (essentials and characters) that turn individual words into completed projects.
Return here on September 20 for the diagnosing quiz.