Writer’s block is fake. No one knows when or how the idea came into the world. Seth Godin in his latest podcast gives a couple suggestions.
But he argues, and I agree, writer’s block is a non-thing. It’s a lie. Something we tell ourselves to avoid the work.
Case in point: no teacher gets teacher’s-block. No mother gets mother’s-block. Lawyers don’t get lawyer’s-block.
They show up and do the work.
Does creative blockage occur like a clogged artery in the heart? Are there seasons when ideas and writing becomes a chore and loses joy and passion? Of course.
But that’s not writer’s block. The Block is not a disease treated with penicillin. An article in the New Yorker “Blocked,” said writers have been given Prozac because of the so-called Block.
Writer’s block is fear, layers and layers of fear. We don’t want to fail. Afraid to ship our art. The latest project is garbage and not worth our time and effort. Fear is not writer’s block.
Writer’s block is giving into Resistance (see War of Art by Steven Pressfield). The lies we believe about art, creativity, and writing have moved from blood, sweat, and tears to perfection and heavenly places. Writer’s block is more about our fear and perfectionist tendencies.
Writing is work like any job or art form. So what can we do when our creativity is lacking? When we are staring at the blank page?
#1 See it as a job
Sit down and write. Doesn’t need to be good words or make any sense. Just write. Remember, you are a writer, and writer’s write.
Writer’s write though the blockage.
Set a time and place and type your little fingers off. Butt in the chair and go.
#2 Ask questions?
Is this project important? Do I have a passion for the work?
If not, start something new. Yes, something new.
Sometimes our creative slowness and the blockage has to do with the project. It might be something you’re forced to write, which happens.
But if you don’t love the ideas, problems you are trying to fix, characters, and story… start something else.
Sometimes asking this question leads to the projects you should work on.
#3 Ask another question?
Am I a writer? Sometimes what the slowness and blockage is telling you writing is not your thing. If it is your thing, you won’t get stuck for long periods of time.
Write because it’s like breathing. Listen to the desire factor. Maybe you’ve felt pressured to write because it’s the cool thing to do. Or, you assume because you like to read, you should be a writer. One doesn’t equal the other.
Just because you like to read the Bible doesn’t mean you should be a pastor. Just because you like Law and Order doesn’t mean lawyering is in your future.
Would I write even if no one reads it or pays me a nickel?
#4 Read a lot
The best way to fight creative blockage is to read. Read a favorite book and write verbatim what it says. Now make it your own.
That’s right, steal.
Reading is the fuel for good writing. You didn’t forget how to write. We sometimes just need a little kick in the pants and inspiration.
Don’t believe the lies. Writers block is akin to unicorns and ferries. Sit down, fire up the computer, and type away.