What Is Writer’s Block?
What is writer’s block? I’ve decided its an often used term for lack of imagination. Or at least that’s what it is with me. And because its so easy to allow something as huge as this to impact on what I should be doing, I try not to even credit it with a name. I often bemoan the fact my muse has deserted me, but I never think of it as a block. After all, our arteries get blocked, the motorway gets blocked or our kitchen sink might get blocked. But praise be, our minds should never suffer this fate.
Don’t allow this term to even surface in your thinking. To give it space is to give it power. I admit to being a terrible procrastinator. I put off doing so many things, only to find the opportunity has gone, or the task has become so much more burdensome.
But with my writing I have always been very disciplined. That is up until a couple of years ago when this discipline began to erode, purely because of my own actions, when my husband retired. Now I often find excuses to leave my office. To go and chat. To wander around the house or garden pretending to be doing something vital. To suggest outings. In actual fact, I’m mostly just being lazy.
There have been numerous times when I struggle with my stories. I struggle to come up with an idea to force my couple together, or force them apart. I struggle to think of little plot lines to flow alongside the main theme. I struggle to figure out how to make the word count long enough to make my story worthy of reading.
But giving up on a story has never occurred to me. I have never put an idea aside before it was completed. Some stories have just taken me a little longer to write because the muse has deserted me for a while. But perseverance has always been the key for me.
Recently I struggled to find a topic to write a post for my blog. I did my ‘wander around the house’ routine trying to come up with some ideas and zip, nada, nothing came to mind. I became so desperate I ended up sitting down at my computer, bringing up my ‘add new’ page of my wordpress site and sat there for a moment.
Then something I read some years ago returned to mind. I wish I could remember who suggested this so I could credit her with such sensible advice – she was an African American writer but I cannot find her name right now. I use her words – well more like a paraphrasing of her words – in workshops to encourage others, but once more I needed her advice to get myself writing again.
Basically her message was – if you have nothing to write, write anyway. She suggested choosing a simple sentence and commence writing it, over and over. From memory ‘a cat sat on the mat’ was the sentence she suggested. I have tried this and it definitely works for me. After typing your little sentences a few times, suddenly you feel the need to add, or change it. Suddenly your half dozen words becomes something much more, still silly and useless as far as your story might go, but I could equate it to using a plunger on that blocked drain. Your ability to create has returned to you.
Writer’s block only affects you if you allow it to. Maybe what you write while your muse is on holiday will not appear in your story. Maybe it will never see the light of day. But as long as you continue to write, even if the delete button becomes your closest friend, you are not allowing that term to have power over you or your imagination.