Sunday, 23 May 2010

Writer's Block, a Myth?

Okay, I'm really really curious to see what other people think about this (because I'm betting we're all creative people in one capacity or another), so I'm throwing this out for general debate and offering of opinions:

That nasty phenomenon known as Writer's Block; that Dreadful Affliction that apparently keeps writers, authors, artists and other creative people from going about their creative business; that Condition where the Muses have deserted us; that dry spell -

is it real? Or is just a myth made up to cover for a creative person's laziness/dry spell?

Can it be broken if you try hard enough? Or do you have to wait it out?

My thoughts on this? I think I can be genuinely blocked (like I am right now), genuinely unable to think of how to go on. But this is often because I have phases when my enthusiasm for a project dims, so I don't feel like writing it. So I don't know if it's that I can't.

I do think it's possible to muster up some energy and discipline and get cracking through that block, even if what you end up writing is rubbish. I just don't know if this necessarily means it's a challenging task rather than one you're passionate about.

Yep. My somewhat muddled thoughts on the subject. Now I'd love to see yours. Myth? Not a myth?

Bombard me!

Note: My themed week begins tomorrow! Powerful relationships, love stories, tragic could-have-beens! Drop by for a peek and for anguished cries against my controversial thoughts! (Yes, a few will be very controversial)

Don't forget to sign up for the Character Interview Blogfest! The signup sheet's in the sidebar, and the post date is the 15th of June. 

Update: Have just signed up to two more blogfests (yep, 'tis definitely the season). The first is the Cognitive Dissonance Blogfest, hosted by the fabulous Zoe, aimed for the 28th June. And yes, she does explain what that means, don't worry. I was kinda freaked out too.

The second is Tessa's brilliant idea, to do The Blogfest of Death. Makes you go ooooh, right?


  1. What a coincedence. I just posted on my facebook status: "Am I blocked or just lazy?"
    You know what I think it is? I think I'm just tired and my brain needs a break. :)

  2. hehe yes well I get that, too, but I try to see it this way: the block is a damm to my creative energy flow (sounds good huh?). At some point, the energy it blocks is just going to get so great that BAM the damm breaks and there you go.

    Also I find it helps to change projects, perhaps even 'genres' (I mean this in the widest sense - I like drawing or...ahem...cross stitching). Or go for a long, long walk in the countryside.

  3. Personally, I think it exists.

    But I believe it can be conquered; its like any big mental block, if you have it in your mind you can't do something, then you don't try. You can, however, break through it with an awful lot of willpower.

    The question is whether it is worth investing that level of effort into breaking through, or just waiting a little while until inspiration/motivation strikes again.

  4. Yeah, I think that's pretty much my usual excuse, Jessica! I go into a frenzy of writing and then burn myself out for days/weeks. Maybe that's where I am now, or maybe I am just being lazy! :)

    Tessa, I love the dam analogy. Wish mine would burst. Changing projects is such a great idea to break the block, though!

    Steve, that is the question, isn't it? When you're on the deadline, I reckon the effort of disciplining yourself to break through is worth it? But when you're writing for fun, well, it's not fun anymore then, is it?

  5. Thanks, Sangu, for linking to my blogfest :D I tend to get writer's block when I don't know how to proceed with a story, meaning that something is off-kilter with the plot or I haven't properly understood the character's motivation. But pure writer's block? Not a believer in that. So I'd say I'm a believer in writer STUCK. :D Great post!

  6. I think it's a myth or just another way to say you're stuck!! And if you're stuck, you have to go back and figure out where in your work you became stuck, try it another way, another pov, another scene...something to get you unstuck. And sometimes when you're stuck and the words are not coming it's because the writer's putting it off because it's just too dang hard to get unstuck...and a break can do some good but I'd say to get back to it ASAP. I just won't allow myself to believe in Writer's Block, would be just another excuse for me to not write...And I have enough of those already :) Great post!!

  7. i get dry spells, but then i just go find my muse again and i can usually start up again. i believe that writers block is just a mind over matter thing.

    i do the same as you, there are times where i have to stop for a while because i grow uninterested in what i'm writing. not saying my story is bad or anything, just that i don't feel like doing it.

    but i don't know if that counts as actual writers block or not. but i guess i would have to go with fact.

  8. I thought I blogged about this before... and I was right!

    As I said in this post: writing leads to inspiration, not vice versa.


    Sometimes we don't WANT to write, but that's different from not being ABLE to. And there's no law that says you have to WANT to do it all the time. We're writers, not robots. :)

  9. Blogfest of death?! I'm so there! Already signed up for Zoe's--super cool...

    I think writer's block is "real" and it can occur for any number of reasons: burn out, anxiety, a paucity of ideas, a trainwrecked plot, etc, etc, etc.

    Can it be beatable? TOTALLY. Refusing to surrender is how it's done. ;)

  10. I'm with India. If you start writing, ideas will come to you. Sometimes you just need to sit in the chair!

  11. I think I agree with Zoe's writer-STUCK. Sometimes that's what keeps you from writing.

    @Slushpile Slut, that's a great point about figuring out where you went wrong or why you've hit a standstill in order to keep going.

    Skippy, that brief lack of interest is so annoying, isn't it? Sets you back ages!

    lbdiamond, I think a "burn out" is usually the reason I hit my blocks, and a lack of ideas too. Does it happen to you too?

    @India, Talli Roland, I see what you guys mean, but what about when you just don't 'feel' like writing at all? Is that a block? Or is that something different entirely? That's pretty much why I'm on the fence about writer's block, because I think it exists for reasons like this, but it's not a BLOCK that can't be broken.

    I think we all agree more or less that we can break through our 'blocks', though!

  12. Oh wow, there are so many blogfests this spring and summer!

    I think the question of whether "writer's block" is real is a trick question, because it's a term used to cover any mental or emotional reason why a writer isn't writing. It can be fatigue, getting stuck on a problem that needs solving, getting bored with a piece of work, a self-esteem issue, fear of failure, or any number of other issues.

    I think it's most helpful to scratch the term "writer's block" and figure out what the actual, specific problem is so that it can be resolved. It sounds like a romantic movie disease or something, but really, it's just a catch-all term for the many reasons we stop writing.

  13. Hmm... I don't really have much new to add to everything that has been said.
    And I can't speak from first hand experience on this subject.
    I will, however, say that mentally inflicted problems are no less real then physical ones.
    I imagine that "writer's block" whatever it may be can vary drastically in degree from one person to the next and is also intimately bound to the relationship the writer has with his or her medium.