I was just asked by a prospective ghostwriting client what I did when I was faced with writer’s block. I didn’t know how to answer because the truth is I don’t get writer’s block. In fact, I don’t even believe in it – not really.
Does that mean I never get stuck writing?
Of course not!
For example, I have 14 drafts or starts of article on this blog behind the scenes. Some of them have been there roughly forever. A couple require more research than I’m really willing to do… at least not now, and not now has gone on a long time.
Another is a post I may do the first week of the new year. But most of them are ideas I just haven’t been able to pull off. I suppose you could say I’m blocked on those article, but labeling my failure that way will do absolutely nothing to get those articles done.
The same is true for the detective novel I sometimes say I want to write, or at least want to have written. It’s possible if I could see my way through to a real plot I’d get it done, but plotting remains a mystery. Again, I don’t want to label it something like ‘writer’s block.’
After all, I’m writing. Writing lots, actually. Blog posts, press releases, books for clients, our family story…
What I notice about me is I only have trouble writing something when my idea isn’t clear or when I’ve finally gotten bored with the topic or I don’t know what to write next.
It’s up to me to get clear on the idea, or to hone it. I’m the only one who can get un-bored with a subject. And usually, not knowing what to write next either means I’m finished or I need to wait a day or two for something to surface.
In other words, it’s up to me to get the writing done. If I keep insisting I’m blocked I won’t get anything done.
Writer’s block is more about ego than anything else
What I’ve noticed about folks who talk a lot about having writer’s block is that they seem to have a lot riding on writing that novel or that article or that book. They are afraid they’ll get it wrong or it won’t be good enough or… well, name the sort of ego- or self-driven reason of your choice.
For example, a friend of mine who is a damn fine writer quit writing, claiming writer’s block because he couldn’t write a novel that satisfied him. When I asked him who he was comparing himself to he mentioned several classic authors – an impossible standard to reach, particularly since he couldn’t get passed three chapters!
Okay, I know my attitude is a bit arrogant. I know people who suffer from what they call writer’s block are hurting. But so often I just want to tell them to get off it and sit down and write… or get off it entirely and do something else.
Stephen J. Cannell says the problem is trying to write something that’s perfect. I suspect my view is not far off the mark.
He suggests having fun with your writing – great idea.
My suggestion? I suggest you sit down and write, if that’s what you really want to do. I also have 10 additional suggestions here.
What’s your thinking about writer’s block? How do you feel about it? Do you have it? Believe in it? And if you do, how do you solve it? Leave a comment.
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