Why, yes, I am about to go on a screed here. Why does every writing site in the world (especially the crap ones) put stuff about writer’s block in a prominent place on their pages? It’s starting to annoy me no end. Maybe I haven’t had enough caffeine yet, but looking over some sites on today’s morning hunt for new and interesting things to write about. I see a massive collection of articles about writer’s block, every site I visit. You’d think it was an airborne disease.
Do people really worry about this stuff? Me, I worry more about whether the checks are coming in on time and how much is going to be held over til next month. I’m more worried about avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome. Where are all the articles on THAT? It’s far more of a REAL ISSUE than frickin’ so-called writer’s block. But it’s just too easy for people to write about, and so every wanna-be writing site in the entire world is crammed full of info on the dreaded WB. Nothing about that godawful recurring pain in your hands and wrists that makes it nearly impossible to use a keyboard without pain though.
I don’t BELIEVE in writer’s block. What is this crap? Let’s look at the phrase itself for a moment. Writer’s block implies some kind of inability to write. We know THAT isn’t true. You can write any old damn time you feel like it. So what is the real root of the problem? An inability to write material you are happy with or that goes in a coherent direction. Curing THAT isn’t so hard. But the notion that there’s such a thing as writer’s block and that it’s some kind of mental constipation? Nonsense. Words WILL come out. Whether or not they SUCK is another thing altogether.
Let me tell you some secrets.
1. If you are at a place where you just can NOT come up with something new, you need to walk away. This is a sign you’ve been hammering away at it too hard and are not giving your brain a rest. Listen to your body and stop trying to be creative. Go dust the television or trim a hamster.
2. Take the advice of Sam Cooke. He was once asked where he gots all his great lyrics from. Cooke said all you have to do is just listen to people talk. The hooks will come. Sure, writing articles ain’t the same as writing hit songs, but I’ll be damned if that isn’t the best advice on the planet. You can thank me later.
3. Write something else. If you are stumped for new material, take a half an hour and write something bad. Something wrong. Something so absurd and unpublishable that you can’t believe you are wasting time doing it. Trust me, this is a great exercise to lubricate your mind. Make it as pointlessly awful as you can and you’ll see the resuls.
4. Walk around the block, come back home, and eat something. Never underestimate the power of carbs, protein, and fat to turn the magic back on.
5. When I am writing poorly, I ususally retreat to a book I know is full of solid writing, or at least some good insightful thinking. Spending a few minutes with an author who writes stuff I respect has a way of getting me interested in the mechanics of writing again and I will start a piece again with the idea that if I can’t write a GOOD article, at least I can write it with the cleanest copy possible. This distracts my attention from the fact that the content isn’t going as well as I’d like and stops the vicious circle of saying “I’ve got writer’s block! I can’t come up with anything good!”
Remember, there is NO SUCH THING as writer’s block. Just bad writing.