Monday, September 26, 2016

Writer’s Block is Poppycock

I don’t believe in writer’s block. This opinion isn’t popular--especially when I run into people who do, in fact, believe in it. Creatives like to think that if something is holding them back, it’s an outside force: Painters who don’t paint are waiting for their muse. Musicians who don’t make music are waiting for inspiration to strike. And writers who don’t write are blocked.

While I do believe times of uber creativity are often followed by stretches of, shall we say, less intense creativity, I don’t believe a decrease in inspiration is a valid reason to stop creating altogether. When I feel blocked, it’s usually because the story I really want to tell doesn’t match what’s coming out on the page.

Orson Scott Card described it like this:
Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me.

As a writer, I have two modes: Writing or Not Writing. No muse determines whether I do one or the other—it’s all on me. Some authors recommend writing through a block, and others think it’s a signal to move on to other things. I have yet to come across a pro who believes writer’s block is an excuse to stop writing until you think you have the attention of your muse.

Philip Pullman says, “Of course there will be days when the stuff is not flowing freely. What you do then is MAKE IT UP.” We’ve coddled ourselves into thinking that if we’re not spinning pure gold, anything we make is useless. This simply isn’t true. If you don’t believe me, just ask Yoda:
Do or do not. There is no try.

Or maybe you prefer Ray Bradbury's take:
“What if you have a blockage and you don’t know what to do about it?” Well, it’s obvious you’re doing the wrong thing, don’t you? In the middle of writing something you go blank and your mind says: “No, that’s it.” Ok. You’re being warned, aren’t you? Your subconscious is saying “I don’t like you anymore. You’re writing about things I don’t give a damn for.” 

Writer’s block is poppycock because there’s always something to write—your subconscious just needs to give a damn about it.






Michelle once drop-kicked a crab that had the audacity to try to pierce her big toe. Her family laughed. Michelle did not.

You can internet-stalk her on Twitter (@redactionaire) or here, where she tends to write on Mondays.   

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