The Myth of Writer’s Block
Ever decide you were suffering from “writer’s block”? How did you define this mysterious condition? As a mental obstacle? A chronic ailment? A demon bent on tormenting you? Did you use the phrase “if only” in your tale of woe?
If you did, stop.
There is no such thing as writer’s block.
There is no ominous, powerful beast preventing you from writing. Like the hoop snake or the monster under the bed, writer’s block is a figment of the imagination. Legend aside, it doesn’t exist.
You can write whenever you want to.
Granted, writing isn’t easy. Many factors come into play, and virtually all of them are synonymous with “you.”
Maybe you don’t believe, for example, that you have the talent or skill to create something that, until now, you have only imagined. Fear of failure, of thinking you won’t measure up to Lennon and McCartney, or Hemingway, can be intimidating to anyone.
Or maybe you don’t want to see the fruits of your labor in any but a beautifully varnished state. If your work needs editing, maybe you think it means you, by extension, are similarly flawed. And that, unlike painting kittens in your preschool smock, isn’t fun at all.
Or maybe you simply don’t like pain and uncertainty. You wouldn’t be the first.
Creative work is personal. It springs from our frailties, our imperfections.
We all wrestle with the pragmatic and the aspirational — what we know we can do and what we dream of doing. Art isn’t just produced, it’s discovered. And there can be no discovery without the unknown, no transcendence without risk.
So forget writer’s block. Write about what is on your mind, regardless of how trivial it might seem. Maybe it will hit the target, maybe it will miss. But if you don’t like it at first, there’s no penalty.
There’s just you and the page.
Writer’s block is often described as a uniquely innovative sensation. The idea is that creative people are afflicted by a sudden, inexplicable and continued incapacity to produce new work. This is a destructive and pernicious myth. It means that creative people are somehow weaker or more prone to psychological difficulties than others which can be either wrong or maybe right !