Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Writer's Block Doesn't Exist

Sometimes I think we writers like to use "writer's block" as an excuse to explain why they were less productive than they should have been.

I'm not quite sure that writer's block really exists.  True, there are times where the words fly naturally and fluidly off my fingers, and there are times (more often) that I stare at the computer screen and retype the same sentence over and over.

But isn't that how it is with everything?  There are on days and there are off days.

There isn't some mystical force that spreads writer's block germs around.  
Today, I was struggling to write a new scene in my novel.  I'm on my first thorough rewrite, and I knew that this scene had to get in there, but I kept getting distracted.  The words weren't coming to me, and Facebook was on.  So, I was about to close the document when I remembered the advice of my professor, Ron Carlson, in college.

Stop writing in a place where it will be easy to start up again.

I think I've shared this piece of advice on my blog before, but a new aspect of the wisdom of that statement was apparent to me this time. 

Firstly, the statement leaves all responsibility with the writer.  There is no block that we run into that we cannot get around.  If you hit a block, walk around or climb over it.  

Secondly, it gives grace to the writer.  It allows the writer to want to stop writing, but only with the caveat that they come back.  Breaks are important, but make sure they are breaks. 

Thirdly, it acknowledges our weaknesses as creators.  As artists, creators of worlds and lives and people don't exist, we struggle.  We tire.  We fail.  No one needs to pretend that its easy all of the time.  We can stop trying to convince the world that being a writer is like this sophisticated, headache-less career.  

But if you want to be a writer, you're not allowed to stop.  While there the few that are blessed with an excess of talent, for the rest of us, being a good writer is mostly about determination, hard work, and the willingness to put aside your pride to learn from others who know more than you.  

So, let's stop using the excuse of writer's block for why we're not writing or why we only got 50 words written instead of 500.  We don't need excuses.  We can take the burden ourselves.  Let's show off those literary muscles.

PS - Something interesting I found on the Internet:

Soli Deo Gloria.

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