The myth of writer’s block

So I’ve been thinking about what to blog about for the past few days, and since nothing really popped into my mind, I took that as a sign I should talk about writer’s block. Or, I should say, the myth of writer’s block, because writer’s block doesn’t exist.

You heard me.

“Buy Kelly,” you say, “There are plenty of times when I sit down to write and nothing happens. I’m uninspired. The muse has left.”

I say to that: blah blah blah. Professional writers don’t get writer’s block. You wanna know why? We’re self-aware enough to know that so-called “writer’s block” is a symptom of something else.

1. You made a wrong turn somewhere.  You’re plugging along on the work in progress, getting in your 1000 words a day, and then suddenly you hit a log jam. You don’t know what happens next. Or your trusty outline is suddenly, horribly wrong. Maybe characters are misbehaving. This is your subconscious telling you you’ve slipped up somewhere. Take a few days to think about what’s happened in your story and try to analyze where you’ve gone off the rails. Then go back, fix it, and move on. More than likely you’ll pick up steam again.

2. The internal editor is way too loud. She’s the one that tells you this is all wrong, do it all over, or better yet, stop working on this novel and start writing a whole new one! DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS BITCH. (Or maybe your internal editor’s a dude, in which case he’s a bastard. You still shouldn’t listen to him.) Plow through. Ignore the voice that says the work isn’t right. Hey, the work might not be stellar, but you can’t edit a blank page, and you have to finish something before you can sell it. If the words really aren’t coming, see number 1 or consider number 3.

3. The insecurity is getting in the way. Maybe you’re not making progress because you think–no, you know!–you’re a crappy writer and no one’s ever gonna wanna read your stuff, anyway. This is a sibling to the “this is all wrong” business of number 2. You need to find a way to tell your insecurity to take a hike long enough for you to get writing. I hate to tell you, but this feeling never really, truly goes away, but you need to power through it. Yes, in the beginning you won’t sell much and maybe your writing isn’t awesome. But the only way for it to get better is to keep writing and the only way to sell stuff is to keep submitting. It’s basically a cage match between Insecure Writer and Persistent Writer, and you know what? The professionals have figured out a way to stack the deck in Persistent Writer’s favor.


What about you guys? Have any other additions for the list? And how do you combat “writer’s block?”




1 Comment

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One response to “The myth of writer’s block

  1. Writers block? I’ve got two. One of them is nine, the other is four. They’re wonderful, but holy carp I cannot get any writing done with them underfoot. So if I can get a chance to write, I write. Good, bad, whatever, just crank it out and maybe I can sneak in some revisions while they watch Scooby-Doo.

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