On Writing

Debunking the Writer’s Block Myth


I was reading through some journals that I wrote when I was a teenager. Wow. What a jaunt down memory lane that was. I read some entries where in ALL CAPS I wrote ‘I HAVE WRITER’S BLOCK! UGH!’

How do you feel about writer’s block? Some of the writers in the blogs I subscribe to write about this (or some form of it) happening.

Here’s the truth for me:

I don’t get writer’s block. In fact, I don’t believe it exists. For me, ideas are always alive and brewing and swirling around in my head. Once I sit down to write, words burst out of me. I can’t remember when I made the realization in my writing life that I don’t need to be ‘inspired’ or ‘in the mood’ to write. It certainly helps, don’t get me wrong, but rarely does it occur that I’m totally inspired about something and I can stop and write about it. I do carry an ‘idea’ book (a small notebook) with me always so if I get an idea that I have to write down, I can. And I do. Ideas are great when you get them and even better when you write them down so you can remember them later. I’d say that of the 10 ideas I get in a day, I remember one – maybe. Writing ideas down is integral in a writer’s life.

The writing mind is a physical body. It needs practice. The more you use it to write, the better it gets. If you know you get to ‘practice’ or write at certain times during a day or a week, then you can train your mind to do your best writing at that time. I look forward to my writing days. I look forward to ‘treat’ writing times – those writing times that pop up unexpectedly – when window opens and I can squeeze out a few more thoughts or sentences or pages (oh, the glory!).

Yes, there are times when I’m in the thick of an unadulterated writing freedom spree when EERRRTT!!! the brakes squeal and the words…well, come to a stop. What do I do? I wait. I read back a few sentences. I breathe in and out. I stretch my arms and legs. I scream. I pick my nose. Then my fingers find their way back to the keyboard – and I wait. For the words to come. For the characters to continue breathing and living through my fingertips. They do. But even this aspect of writing took time to master.

It takes time to trust that the words will continue to flow. It takes time to get over the fear of ‘frozen mind’ – when all gets cold and dark in your creative mind. It will happen. Fearing that it will come is like fearing tomorrow – it’s comin’ so why not make the best of it? My mind does go blank sometimes. But I don’t call it writer’s block. There’s not a blockage there, there’s just a pause. A moment or moments of re-saturation. Of patience. Of character growth.

Write through it, is another way to get through this time. Don’t think, just write. Write: I CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING TO WRITE. WTF. Keep the words coming out even if they don’t directly relate to what you are working on. When Micheal Phelps is doing his bojillionth length at swim practice and his legs are rubbery stubs of lactic acid, I’m sure the farthest thing from his mind is that he can’t finish. That he can’t do it. He’s practiced so much, he pulls through it. His body knows what his mind fears – that it can do it. The writing ‘body’, which is essentially your creative self, knows that it can do it.

So next time you feel whatever you define as ‘writer’s block’ coming on – try giving it the finger – waiting, breathing, jumping up and down, and seeing what happens.

Do you believe in writer’s block? Why or why not?





One thought on “Debunking the Writer’s Block Myth

  1. “The writing body” – absolutely LOVE that image! It’s just so perfect in its similarity to my physical body and how I can nourish it with what I read and exercise it with what I write. Thanks so much for sharing that!And no, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced writer’s block either. I’ve written myself into a corner a time or ten and needed to step back and rethink it, but blocked, mm, I don’t think so. Something is always crackling through my brain – scenes, dialogue, phrases, ideas – and I find some of my best ideas come during a car ride or church service. I’m there but I’m not there. John Shea calls it “soul wandering.” But woe is me if I do not write the idea down! How much have I lost because I “got too busy”? Best not to think of it. Besides, it’s time to exercise my writing body anyway.


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