Block Buster – Why Writers Are Their Own Worst Enemies And How To Cure Writers’ Block
There’s no such thing as Writer’s Block. God, it felt good saying that. So, good in fact that I’m going to say it again. In italics. And bold. There’s no such thing as Writer’s Block. Now, before the torches and the pointy sticks come out and the blogosphere echoes to cries of “Burn The Heretic!”, allow me to qualify that statement a little.
I’m not saying that no one has spent sleepless nights or desperate days with their heads in their hands and wringing their souls and whimpering “I just can’t do it. I just can’t think of anything.” It’s happened to me on many occasions and I’ve no doubt it will happen again. Blank-page-itis is the terrifying curse of the creative writer and is always about as welcome as a bout of impotence on an annual visit to a Pay-Up-Front brothel. But when you say “I have Writer’s Block”, you are lying. You are only lying to yourself, but you are lying.
Wanting to write is, if we’re being brutally candid, a mental affliction. Granted, it’s a mental affliction which can net you a lot of money if the symptoms are severe enough, but a mental affliction nonetheless. The Fickle Finger of Fate twisting the knife and adding to this mental malady by inflicting Writer’s Block would be cruel indeed. But it isn’t The Fickle Finger of Fate. It’s the Feckless Finger of Fuck.
The Fickle Finger of Fate is when life happens to you. The Feckless Finger of Fuck is when you happen to yourself (See Madame Laurent’s Syndrome for further details) And this is what’s happening when you give yourself Writer’s Block.
Every writer is terrified of what they write being shit. And every writer is regularly convinced that everything they’ve ever written is shit, no matter how good it is and despite any other evidence to the contrary. It’s just the nature of the beast.
Consequently, every writer self edits. The best and oldest writing advice is “Just write it and sort it out later”. But every writer ignores this advice and self edits anyway. I’m doing it now. It took ten minutes between writing this bit and the previous bit. And when you get Writer’s Block, all that’s happened is that the self editing has got out of control. You’ve stopped yourself writing this and then stopped yourself writing that and gone round and round in ever decreasing circles until you disappear up your own fundament.
Your creativity hasn’t left you. When you are asleep, the guardian you have set up can’t work. You still dream your freaky dreams, even if you’re the sort of person who can’t remember them. So you have to learn to sidestep this guardian while you are awake. The answer lies, ironically, in not writing.
Agatha Christie famously once said “The best time for planning a book is when you’re washing the dishes”. If you can’t write, then don’t. Do dishes. Go to the gym. Go bowling. Be active and don’t stare at that blank screen. Eventually, the self appointed creativity sentinel will lose concentration and Bang! Things will start flowing again.
You may have spotted an irony in me offering this advice. I don’t post that much. I know. This post is by way of being an exercise in me giving myself advice and putting it out there so I have to put my money where my mouth is. Or putting my mind where the money might be. If you find it helpful, then you’re welcome. If you think it’s a crock of crap, then you may well be right. So very very right. Hang on, I’m not going down that mental path again. I’m off to write something else.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013