Writer’s Block. You’re sitting at the typewriter, the PC, maybe you still prefer pen and paper, but the inspiration doesn’t want to play today. The sheets of pristine white paper or the electronic glare of the PC screen stare back at you.
Your muse is on vacation.
You make yourself a cup of tea, maybe you prefer coffee, and you walk back to those pristine sheets of white paper only to find that your muse really is on vacation. They’re on a long haul flight with an open ended ticket and you have no idea when they’re coming back.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read about writers suffering from Writer’s Block.
It sucks, right?
Pardon my vernacular but Bullshit!!!
I can say that because I used to be afflicted. I’m definitely cured, because my last bout of this affliction hasn’t occurred for years.
The cure was short and sharp. I was reading an interview with the acclaimed – and very good in my opinion – historical novelist Bernard Cornwell. The interviewer commented about how prolific he was, and asked whether he ever suffered from Writer’s Block. Now, Bernard’s vernacular was a lot more politically correct than mine, but roughly translating he said: The condition is Bullshit!
BC used the analogy of nurses, and firemen. Would it be permissible for a fireman to say, “Sorry, I can’t put your fire out today I’ve got firemen’s block.”
The counter argument is that they are difficult physical jobs that are purely done, but a writer is being creative and it’s not always possible to have your muse by your side.
I don’t buy that argument because creativity can take many forms and is involved with many professions. For my sins I work in the IT industry. Sometimes technology breaks, and sometimes the standard recovery actions either don’t work, or they fail and make the situation worse. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen IT technicians come up with creative complex technical solutions to very complex problems. Had any of those individual turned around and said they had techie block, and couldn’t help, they would have been sacked.
Writer’s Block is nothing more than another form of the writer’s worst enemy, procrastination.
Funnily enough I’ve only ever heard prose writers complain about the condition. I don’t ever recall reading about a professional screenwriter, playwright, or songwriter complaining about Writer’s Block. Now if it was a genuine affliction wouldn’t it apply to all? Let’s not forget professional speechwriters.
Reading that interview with BC was a real slap in the face for me and I’ve never looked back since. Sure, I have days when I try to continue with a story in production and I can’t seem to get going. However, it generally means I’ve written myself into a corner. I read back through the work find the error and off I go re-writing / writing.
Occasionally, I do have days when I struggle with a story, and there are no obvious errors and it does seem like inspiration has deserted me. However, when that occurs I write about something else. It could be an overheard conversation from the day before, something I can see out of the window. There is always something that you can write.
I’m with Bernard on this one.
Take care and I’m happy to hear from anyone who disagrees.
M J Wolfson - That's me.