4 Questions about Writer’s Block… answered by the pros!
Writer’s block can be an author’s worst enemy. As an aspiring author, I’ve learned how to deal with writer’s block, but since I’m not a famous (or a particularly successful) author, nobody really cares about my opinion about it. I understand that. Maybe successful authors are more credible sources about writer’s block that I am.
Theoretically, a published author should be able to explain how to deal with writer’s block better than a part-time blogger like me. Unfortunately, as we shall soon see, successful writers don’t always give the best advice about writing and writer’s block.
What is writer’s block?
“Writer’s block is just another name for fear.” ― Jacob Nordby, author of a bunch of self-help books
I don’t know much about Jacob Nordby, but this is one of the worst explanations of writer’s block I’ve heard. I know a lot about fear. After all, I’m scared and worried about many things. But even though I feel a lot of emotions (excitement, frustration, anger, exhilaration) when I write, fear isn’t one of them.
The only time I feel fear during the writing process is when somebody is reading my work right in front of me, but that hasn’t happened in over 20 years. With a blog, I never get to see a reader’s reaction. If somebody leaves a comment on my blog telling me that I suck, I’m glad to have gotten a reaction. But if somebody tells me to my face that I suck, it hurts my feelings.
I think a better explanation is that writer’s block is your brain saying “I’m not going to be creative today.” It’s when you want to write and your brain won’t let you. And why would anybody be scared about writing?
What do you do when you get writer’s block?
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all” ― Charles Bukowski, author of weird poetry and fiction
If Charles Bukowski says it’s okay, then maybe it’s okay to write about writer’s block, but only as a last resort. It’s like the student who writes a story about not being able to think of a story to write about and then he/she wakes up and it’s all a dream. You don’t want to write a story like that, but sometimes you don’t have a choice.
Whenever I get writer’s block, instead of writing about writer’s block, I just quit until I feel more rested. But maybe writing about writer’s block isn’t a bad idea.
Just so you know, I’m not writing about writer’s block because I have it. I don’t have writer’s block. I have what I think should be called editor’s block. I’m writing a lot of stuff, but I haven’t been successful fixing much of it. My mind has been going blank whenever I’ve been making corrections and adding/deleting word/phrases. This lack of editing has left me with a bunch of substandard drafts that don’t meet my blog’s standards. I know a piece of writing isn’t very good if it doesn’t meet my blog’s standards. I’ve never seen editor’s block before, so maybe I’ll copyright it and see if I can sue somebody when they use without my permission.
What does getting writer’s block say about you as a writer?
“Writer’s block is for people who have the luxury of time.”- Jody Picoult, famous author of a bunch of best selling novels that make people cry
“Luxury of time?” This contradicts everything I know about writer’s block. The only reason writer’s block is a problem is because writers have deadlines (and no time to meet them). If a writer has a lot of time, he/she could quit when writer’s block struck. If you have the luxury of time, you don’t care about writer’s block.
Even though I’d love to be a successful author, I’m glad I’m not a professional writer because I could see myself getting writer’s block at the worst possible moments. And then if I couldn’t conquer writer’s block, I’d get fired. I don’t really care if I get writer’s block now because my blog won’t fire me.
I guess my lack of fear of writer’s block causes me not to have it. Maybe that Jacob Nordby guy was onto something after all.
Why do people get writer’s block?
“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.” ― Terry Pratchett, famous author of a bunch of humorous fantasy novels
At first, I thought Pratchett was full of crap (Remember, Crap is NOT a Bad Word!), but maybe he is on to something. According to Merriam Webster, the term writer’s block was first used in 1950. California became a state in 1850. It’s possible that somebody in California invented writer’s block. I’m surprised it didn’t exist before 1950, though. We’d had centuries of writers before 1950, and it took that long before somebody became afflicted with writer’s block. It kind of makes sense; a lot of afflictions were created in the 20th century.
I don’t like people who make up afflictions, but I also dislike people who deny that afflictions exist. Maybe Terry Pratchett never experienced writer’s block, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. When I was a kid, I suffered from motion sickness, and the rest of my family told me it was all in my head. That ticked me off. Now I know that there’s a logical physiological(?) reason that I got motion sickness, and it wasn’t my imagination or me psyching myself out.
If Terry Pratchett didn’t believe in writer’s block, he might not have believed in motion sickness either, and I bet he really wouldn’t have believed in editor’s block.
What do you think? What other questions about writer’s block do you want answered by the pros? Is editor’s block a real thing, or is it all in my head? What do you do when you get writer’s block?
When I was in high school, I had to write a story (it wasn’t about writer’s block) and read it in front of the class.
And that’s when a bunch of weird stuff happened.