How self-indulgent writers can be. I don’t personally believe that writer’s block exists. There, I said it.
I am aware that Merriam-Webster considers it a real enough phenomenon that they included the definition. I am frustratingly aware of all the articles, websites, workshops, conferences, books and cartoons devoted to writer’s block and how to cure it.
I cry fowl.
It’s as if (some) writers don’t feel like they have arrived until they can mourn aloud, hand-to-head, that they, too, have succumbed to the mysterious illness that can generally only be self-diagnosed.
How precious. How indulgent.
Why do writers get an out?
When was the last time you heard a truck-driver claim they couldn’t navigate to their destination because they had Driver’s Block? When was the last time you heard anyone say they couldn’t cook dinner because they had Chef’s Block? When was the last time you heard a schoolteacher say they couldn’t teach class one day because they were suffering from Teacher’s Block?
I just don’t buy it.
Maybe the English are right: [writer’s] block is just a hocus-pocus covering life’s regular, humbling facts.
Writers write. Truckers truck. Chef’s cook. And, teachers teach.
The best article I have ever read on the subject is “Blocked: Why do writers stop writing?” that appeared in a 2004 issue of the New Yorker. Among other things, the author talks about how “romantic notions about writing had filtered down to the public.”
I can see that. I first began to realize how some writers embrace a mystical view of the writing process, in the most literal of ways, when I first participated in NaNoWriMo. There was open discussion of choosing a toy mascot to help you write.
An odd baby-talk has emerged, with writers talking about writerly things and noveling. Noveling, according to the Urban Dictionary means “a long, overly wordy text message or social network update.” Hmmm. I don’t think that’s what would-be writers understand that they are saying.
I was astounded that anyone would waste time picking out a toy and waiting for that toy to mystically imbue them with the unique ability to write beautifully. I could not help but wonder how much closer they would be to actually writing if they didn’t waste time shopping for toys and waiting for a near-religious experience.
I also noticed that most of these writers never finish anything. They never publish. A published author commented on a local writers’ group in our area that he found it sad that the same group was still meeting on a regular basis after five years and none of them had made any progress.
Writing is about writing and it is work. It is wonderful work. But, it is work.
Writing is not a religious experience. Angels don’t descend from heaven (or devils from hell) and take hold of your keyboard, hammering out completed works. They don’t even pound out rough drafts. Too often, the writing experience too many people describe is reminiscent of spiritualism, with some spirit doing the creating.
Writing is something humans do. That’s where writing comes from. Take responsibility for it and take credit for it.
I see no point in discussing how to overcome writer’s block, if you have succumbed. There are people who earn a living talking about writer’s block. I guess that’s one way to overcome it. At least they are writing, right?
If you have something to say, say it. Write it. Move on. While you’re at it, cook dinner.
Tomorrow: what every writer MUST write..