If you are a writer, then the chances are that you have experienced what is commonly known as ‘writer’s block’.
Perhaps you even read about it in a previous blog of mine. Well, I’ve got news for you. In the year and half since I wrote that blog, I’ve had a total change of mindset. I’ve realised that writer’s block is actually just a myth. It’s an excuse that writers use to shy away from their own failure to produce content.
Think about this: do you know any other field where people experience this mythical ‘block’? Can you imagine how it would be received if a doctor walked into his practice and declared that he was unable to work because of ‘doctor’s block’, or even a footballer who got on the team bus and declared that he had ‘footballer’s block’? This doesn’t happen. Why? Because these professionals simply get up and get on with it.
The reality is that ‘writer’s block’ is just a way for writers to make their excuses for not writing sound more glamorous. It’s much easier to say that you have ‘writer’s block’, a fictional construct which only affects the literary artistics amongst us, than to say that you are simply prone to procrastination; or even just to admit that you are out of ideas.
Of course, it’s not always that simple. I’m not saying that anyone claiming to be suffering from writer’s block is bone idle/lazy or unimaginative. There are plenty of other emotions which can stall a writer’s work; all of which also end up being chalked in the ‘writer’s block’ column. Emotions such as fear and anxiety are extremely common for writers. Have you ever written a page, read it back and felt like a complete fraud? This is completely normal.
More than most people, writers are prone to self-doubt about their work. Most writers are perfectionists by nature, and sometimes it can be really difficult to get the words going.
So, what can be done to solve this?
My advice, is to start thinking of writing as your job. Writing needs to be something that you just do. Now, before you start getting the wrong idea, please allow me to point out that I have the utmost value and respect for artistic flair.
I fully appreciate that you can’t always ‘just write’, and that it’s not that simple. However, in my opinion, the more you can start thinking of writing as less than a hobby and more like a career; the better your output will be. I believe that the myth of writers block actually really hinders writers.
It’s such a common, acknowledged problem that more and more writers are just using it as a makeweight against their own self-doubt. They use it to justify their lack of work; when they should be doing the opposite. It doesn’t need to be like this.
Imagine you were working in an office. How would you go about dealing with a problem like this? Would you sit and do nothing, attributing the problem to some fantastical ‘block of the brain’? No, you wouldn’t, because you would lose your job. It’s true, there’s nobody there to fire you from ‘being a writer’, but that is where your own sense of worth comes into play.
“How much fire do you have in you? Do you want to be a writer, or do you REALLY WANT to be a writer?”
If you are content to sit at a desk and scribble away feeling artistic, then maybe you are in the wrong career. Writing is hard, it’s demanding, it will push you to your limits; but that doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of doing it. If you have ideas, you can write those ideas.
The bottom line is that writing shouldn’t feel forced, and the idea that there is always some ‘disease’ waiting in the shadows to steal away your output is just plain wrong.