That’s right. I said it. I do not believe in writer’s block. Go ahead, let the shudder go all the way down your spine and wait for the gasp to suck all the air from your lungs. Done? Okay, good. Now, let me explain.
The idea of writer’s block and I have a long history together. Our story begins with Teenage Kate. Teenage Kate called herself a “writer” and was dubbed the token writer by her group of friends. It made sense. She had written stories and shared them in elementary school, and she openly admitted to writing several fan fiction series online. However, when Teenage Kate decided to “get serious” and write a novel, she wrote about twenty pages in Microsoft Word, got stuck, and stopped. While researching ways to get herself “unstuck,” Teenage Kate discovered the term “writer’s block.”
It was an excuse made in heaven.
It was so much easier to say that Teenage Kate had “writer’s block” than to admit that she was simply too lazy, too unmotivated, and too distracted by high school shenanigans to write a novel. After all, her “inability” to finish a writing project could never be her fault. She was an artist, a delicate soul, one whose muse needed proper care. If her muse were uninspired or absent, that wasn’t her fault. Teenage Kate just had “writer’s block.”
Flash forward to College Kate. Admittedly, College Kate had a lot on her plate. She had a full course load, belonged to a sorority, participated in a few extra-curricular activities, worked three part time jobs, had a social life, and managed an international long-distance relationship. And trust me, she listed off those things every time she explained why she wasn’t writing outside of her creative writing classes.
College Kate did a lot of talking about writing and a lot of complaining about her “inability” to write. After all, her classes used up all her creative energy and left her, you guessed it, blocked. Again, she was a suffering, delicate artist. It was never her fault.
Post-College Kate got her shit together. She dove into research about writing craft and independent publishing, and she made the most important admission any Kate ever made.
She admitted that she simply wasn’t ready to write a novel yet.
Not that she was busy. Not that her muse had abandoned her. Not that she had “writer’s block.”
She just wasn’t ready.
While she waited to feel ready to write a novel, Post-College Kate kept researching and began making business plans. One by one, she had her traditional and stereotypical views of writers, the writing lifestyle, and the publishing industry flipped upside down. And finally, armed with her new knowledge and new attitude, she felt ready.
And you know what? She wrote an 80,060 word novel in 29 days.
And she never once got writer’s block.
Okay, leaving the narrative mumbo-jumbo behind, let me make myself explicitly clear.
Never in my life have I had writer’s block. The rough truth of it is that, before NaNoWriMo 2014, I simply was never ready to put in the time, work, and energy it takes to write a novel. I spent the first 22 years and seven months of my life looking for a quick trick for writing a novel. Why? Because I was lazy, scared of success, and more in love with the idea of being a writer than the actual act of being a writer.
If you feel like you are “suffering” from “writer’s block,” chances are, you’re not. Yes, you may feel uncreative and unable to write, but if you are truly a writer, you are not blocked. There is simply something else at play that is keeping you from doing your work. You might be:
- Stressed out about other things in your life
- Scared of failure
- Scared of success
- Too inexperienced to put a novel together
- Subconsciously not ready to write a novel
But you are not blocked. Your writer’s artery is not clogged. Your muse has not abandoned you (not that she exists, either).
If you are a writer, if you have the determination to write, the motivation to start writing, and the persistence keep writing, you will end up with a novel. You may have to sort through your other issues first, but once you have overcome the outside obstacles and your own apathetic tendencies, you will start writing and keep writing.
If you are truly a writer, if this is your passion and your intended profession, once you figure out your system, you will never get writer’s block. Sure, you will have tricky plots to maneuver, characters who won’t behave, and sentences that just won’t flow.
But you won’t be blocked.
You will be working it out, you will be finagling, you will be problem-solving. You will realize that, like every other job, there are challenges to writing.
But that’s just the thing: you will be writing.
Because once you take care of your other responsibilities and commit yourself to writing, you will write. There will be no metaphorical brick wall, no mental clog in a creative pipe. And there never was.
You are, and always will be, in control of your creative life.
There is no writer’s block.