Writers block reconsidered

I’m going to assume, for the purposes of this post, that writer’s block exists, and that there are those of us writers who simply find it impossible – or have found it impossible – to write.

For anyone for whom the soothing routines of writing seem like a distant dream, I can offer a few ideas that might help to remove writer’s block.

~ If we are tired, let us rest, without judgement about our failure today, to write our usual four thousand words. “But I always manage three thousand words a day,” is a most unhelpful stick to beat ourselves up with. It’s never about the word count. One good sentence, or paragraph fix is worth more than all our good intentions, or angst over our failed targets.

~ I sense that somewhere in among the complex reasons why we writers get blocked, is the notion that we should be writing, because we always do, or because someone or other expects us to. Maybe we are bored, isolated, in need of a change and fresh air. Nothing wrong with that. So let’s take time off when we need it, to smell the coffee and meet other people. If that feels wrong, call it research.

~ I call the purely creative stage of writing, Stage One; and I suspect that writer’s block is our reaction to judgement and expectations about our writing at the wrong time. We reflect and judge Stage One writing, when all we are doing, at that stage, is tipping our words – any words! – onto the page. Writer’s block surfaces when we start editing or censoring our creative outpourings, instead of simply allowing them release. Of course there will be all kinds of things to change, to modify; but at Stage One, writing simply has to flow and leap and dance, a process in which our intellects have little place, and cannot comment on. Compare and contrast, reflect and refine all come later.

~ Worse still, writer’s block – the refusal to co-operate with what we think we expect – surfaces when we write for the critics, those in our heads, and those pestering us with phone-calls and deadlines. We write what other people want us to write, instead of accepting that our styles change, our preferences evolve, as with any living, creative aspect of ourselves.

~ It seems unfair to blame an inability to write on our career as a writer. Our inability to summon a single sentence or paragraph may have nothing whatever to do with our writing ability, and may be due to outside factor(s) such as worry about money, caring for a suddenly sick friend or relative, being tired all the time, needing to eat more fruit and veg. So, instead of saying, “I have writer’s block at the moment, it’s simply awful,” consider that there are many factors that go into a blank page, and resist the urge to condemn oneself for apparent weakness. Instead, focus on feeling better and do what it takes to bring the joy back into life; joy which, in whatever form, is what spews on the page when we are in Stage One writing.

Thanks for reading.

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