Writer’s block debates seem to come in waves. Lots of arguing about the existence of this apparently mythical psychological state that always ends up bringing out this statement: It doesn’t exist, only weak writers give in to writer’s block!
That one makes me want to scream.
Whether or not you call it writer’s block, I claim it does exist. And I’d go so far to say this mythical beast comes in different breeds:
- Inadequacy – This is the kind of writer’s block you push through. “But my words suck, but no one cares, but, but, but!” No buts. Or butts, please. Only words. (If your words include butts, they count.) This beast may look big and scary, but is the easiest to conquer—you just have to face it first. This article has a a lot of good advice for knocking this one out.
- Stuck – This is a toss-up. For me, personally, I need to write through it, because I normally find where I need to go by forcing the absolute worst thing to happen (setting people on fire is a favorite). Some people need to stop, sit, and plot, though. For others, this means they need to go back and edit. Learn how you work, and don’t let this one stop you—even if you aren’t writing words, keep moving forward. This beast is a little grisly, but may end up being an ally in the end. Maggie Stiefvater just posted a great graphic (and another version) of navigating the twists and turns of this battle.
- Emotional Constipation – Oh, this writer’s block. This is the one that knocks you off your feet when your personal life explodes, or the publishing industry destroys you. It would be so nice if writing could only be a work of love, some magical process that’s entirely rainbows and unicorn poop and catharsis. But, if you’re like me, the greatest reward to writing is having others reading your work. Which adds that lovely, stifling expectation to every word you write. And of course any additional stressors in your life love to add on to it. For this one, I have no answer on how to get right through it. This is the one I feel is the most mythical, evil being of them all, gross and rotting and dripping and oozing with doubt and insecurities. You can try stabbing and punching and screaming at this one, but sometimes it refuses to move off your words, hoarding them just out of reach. And that’s okay. You’re a human (I assume). Sometimes you need to take a break and re-focus, re-charge. Then come back and stab that sucker through the eye socket.
What about you guys? Do you believe in the fabled create called writer’s block? Do you think my list needs to be longer? Wanna share your battle scars?