I don’t believe in “Writer’s Block.”
Sometimes people ask me, “How do you deal with writer’s block?” My answer? I don’t believe in it. It simply doesn’t exist. But here’s what I do believe in:
1) Procrastination. We all do it. We’re not machines; I doubt there’s anyone in the world who hasn’t procrastinated at one point or another. It happens. So what do you do when you realize you’re procrastinating? I make “deals” with myself. I will procrastinate for another half an hour, then I will get work done. I will win one game of solitaire, then I will get work done. I will read for a half hour, then I will get work done. Preparing my mind works for me. Usually I give myself a half hour, and then I’m ready to go.
2) Laziness. Yes, sometimes we can be lazy. This isn’t the mythological “writer’s block.” It’s your fault. Take responsibility for your own laziness; don’t blame it on an outside force. Because when it comes down to it, you’re responsible for your actions. You control what you do. So stop being lazy, and get working.
3) Plot problems. You realize that something in your plot isn’t working out. It happens to all of us. So what do you do? Tackle the problem. Throw a hundred ideas out there for how to solve it. 99 of them can totally suck. All you need is one good one, and then you’re fine to continue. Take ACTION to work it out. Solving the problem IS in your control. If you blame it on something else — like the so called “writer’s block” — then you’re not giving yourself enough credit.
4) Having an off-day. Sometimes the words don’t flow as well as they have for the past few days. This may be because the scene just isn’t as fun for you to write. So what? That’s not an excuse to stop. Write the best you can; you can always go back and edit it later.
5) The excuse of not being inspired. This claim irritates me the most of all of them. The outside world has no responsibility to inspire you. YOU have the responsibility to inspire yourself. Stop making excuses. Writing is just like any other job — sometimes you’re just not in the mood to do it one day. But do doctors decide to randomly not go into work because they’re not in the mood to do so? NO! Why is writing any different? It’s NOT. Read over what you wrote yesterday. Research into something you need to clarify more. Work through plot problems. Beat procrastination. But above all else, remember, sometimes you need to force yourself to be inspired. That’s just the way it is.
Nothing’s more annoying than a person who makes excuses. You know what those people are also known as? People who don’t finish what they start. Don’t be one of those people. You deserve better than that, and it’s up to you to make it happen.
That’s it for today! I hope this was helpful.
Whew! The next Dr. Phil! 😉
Engaging post, Michelle! Much to think about.
Thanks for that Michelle! I needed that…
Very good kick in the butt, Michelle. You're so right about this, and I needed to hear it. Not just for writing, either. Getting the job done is within our control. We just have to take action.
writer's block is only a term and therefore is not “real” but it depends on the use of said term. When it comes to something with as deep potential as creativity, I don't think anyone can be so judgemental. I understand the underlying concept of this post, but I have to say that I have sat in a room for hours alone doing NOTHING but concentrating and musing as I tried to unleash creativity. It's a process, and more than that, it's personal. To some this “Writer's block” is simply part of the process. To others it may be viewed as a complication to overcome mentally or creatively. And to you apparently it's an excuse. It all comes down to perspective. In the end, as long as good art is made…haven't we all been successful?
@Shawn — but concentrating and musing IS taking action to get something done! It might not be concrete, but it's steps to make things happen 🙂
I can agree with you there! So I think you article contains great advice and looking over it again I definitely appreciate it much more than my first read through. But the one thing I am still wondering is what “Writer's block” is in your opinion? You never defined it. For me, it's what I described. A struggle to find the best way to convey a feeling or concept. An elusive muse, if you will. Do you think writer's block is different for a storyteller than it is for a songwriter like me?
Thanks for responding : )
@Shawn — I'm glad you see it differently now! 🙂 And to me “Writer's Block” is just something people say they have when they just want a “reason” to tell people why they're not getting any work done. Like I said, I don't really believe it exists.
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Very inspiring post, Michelle 🙂
I just spent the day completing my final edits before submission. I wanted to add a scene and felt stuck for two days. Seriously, I can create a 300 page book but three pages stumps me. So, I followed your advice (point number 3) and took action. With some guidance from our fearless leader, I cut most of what I'd written and only kept the paragraphs that moved the story forward. In that “light-bulb” moment I realized I was forcing something that didn't fit. I pushed through and now I'm ecstatic about the end result. It's been sent to our agent and is ready to go out!
Writing isn't easy, which makes typing the last few sentences of your 1st draft or making the last edits to your final draft feel like a huge accomplishment. 🙂 XOXO
“If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great.” -Tom Hanks
I *so* agree with you, Michelle! Not that I haven't been guilty of all of the above, but you're right, they're just excuses. Writers block is a way to place the responsibility of not writing somewhere other than where it belongs: squarely on the shoulders of the writer.
CONGRATZ on submitting!!!!