I’ve always been leery about the idea of writer’s block. It’s a fun excuse to use when your writing is not going well, or not going at all, but if you transfer the idea of being “blocked” to other professions it seems a bit dramatic to claim that one has writer’s block. Claiming to have it also helps one to avoid looking at the real reasons one’s writing isn’t progressing as expected.
Take for example a writer working for a marketing firm. If this writer told her boss or client that she had writer’s block they might not have a job or a client for very long. If an ER doctor said she had “being-a-doctor’s block” all kinds of bad things could happen.
So, what’s really going on with any kind of professional block?
Well, I think that as humans, as talented as we might be, we all have limits and guess what? Writing is really, really tough work. I think there are lots of folks who think writing is easy and when they sit down to write that Great American Novel that is going to make them rich and famous they’re stymied by how hard it is and often dismiss it as writer’s block.
Now to be fair, writer’s block was first described in 1947 by psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler as a “condition.” Here’s the Widipedia link:
And, yes there are some very famous writers who have had this “condition.” Of course, some of them were also heavy drinkers!
But, in all fairness part of this “condition” does seem to be associated with professions in the world of music, art and literature where coming up with original ideas and being creative are essential elements of producing the end product such as a novel, painting or song.
So, in my opinion, the first task if a writer is “stuck” is to figure out what is actually going on with their writing process and perhaps even events in their life at that time that might be distracting them from writing.
Many, many articles and books have been written about how to overcome writer’s block and a recurring theme is to have a plan for your writing project. This goes back to process and might be that an outline, a commitment to write so many pages a day or week, etc., will “unblock” the writer, but whatever it is, it should be something that will not cause the writer even more anxiety and therefore fuel writer’s block. Yes, it can be a vicious cycle sometimes and that’s one of the reasons writing is hard work.
Just in case, here’s a recent article by Andrew Lewis Conn that suggests 7 ways to beat writer’s block: