AN UNBLOCKED BRAIN

Writer’s Block Party – When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?


I suppose this is where my fellow writers heap scorn on my head, but truth sometimes hurts.

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I have never had writer’s block. I have had days, weeks, where I didn’t feel like writing because I was sick, tired, on vacation, wanted to read a book or watch television. But never have I been unable to write unless I was physically ill. I always can write something — and considering my advancing years, I figure it’s unlikely I’m going to dry up.

I’ve had times when I wasn’t happy with what I wrote, needed to rewrite it. I’ve had periods where I wrote and it was a dead-end, destined for the trash bin.

But not be able to write at all? Stare at a blank page? Never happened. Maybe the problem for some writers is a too narrow focus. Deciding in advance what they should be writing, so if they can’t write that specific thing, they don’t write at all.

I will write, even when it seems off track. Inevitably, my odd brain will wind around to put me on track. Or I’ll discover what seemed to be a completely wrong direction was the right path. That’s where I should be after all.

When I write fiction, my characters tell me where to go. They are always right. It’s exactly when characters start making decisions on their own — often to my surprise and delight — that I know what I’m working on has begun to click.

If I can’t write, you can assume I’m too sick to sit up or someone wrenched the keyboard from my clawed hands. Or I’m on a big, shiny boat sailing the Caribbean and having way too much fun to sit down and write. I wish that would happen more often!

I have never understood writer’s block and I would certainly never turn it into a party, unless each writer brings his or her own food and drinks. Okay, I’ll make a dish too, but everyone else has to bring something. Hungry writers can eat you out of house and home!



Categories: Blogging, Humor, Writing

Tags: , , , , , ,

28 replies

  1. No such thing as writer’s block in TV News. Some suggest there are no such things as writers in TV News. That’s another story. For this retired TV News Maggot, it’s just laziness.

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    • Not feeling like writing isn’t writer’s block. Professionals can’t afford writer’s block. Can you imagine telling any of your bosses you weren’t going to get that piece on the air because you had writer’s block and couldn’t write the script? They’d have canned you on the spot.

      Me too. (“Sorry about that deadline, boss. Just a bit of writer’s block. Tell the customer I’ll get to it any day now …”)

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  2. I make a mouth-watering cream cheese artichoke dip…let me know when the party’s starting.

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  3. I think you were absolutely right when you said: “Maybe the problem for some writers is a too narrow focus. Deciding in advance what they should be writing, so if they can’t write that specific thing, they don’t write at all.” It’s related to being a perfectionist, wanting to find the perfect subject, the perfect approach, the perfect words.

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  4. I write because it is fun. Of course I would love to write a best seller, but I am too lazy and have no intention of slaving away at writing days on end just to write a book, which probably no-one will read in any case. The only time I was near blocked was when I discovered the stupid brainless games on Facebook, but I cured myself. Mr. Swiss said why do you no longer write and so I got thinking, cancelled the games and wrote again and have never stopped since, just like talking. The only stuff I was paid to write were the documents for Letters of Credit in the office and export papers and for that you need no creative sprit, just invent what you do not know – the banks fell for it anyhow.

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    • I was paid to write books no one read. In other words, technical documentation and manuals for computers and software. I also — when I could — wrote articles for newspapers including restaurant and book reviews, news features, etc. I published my own book after getting an F in marketing. There are ways to get your book published, but I wasn’t ready to do it. Writing a book is nothing compared to selling it and there’s no way I’d go through that again. Quite a few people have read it, but it hasn’t made me any money and never will. I’d rather blog. At least I don’t expect to earn money from it!

      I play a few silly little games on FB, mainly so I have something to do with my hands when I listen to audiobooks. Otherwise, I too gave up anything that required actually dedication and continuity. No fake farms, sim cities, etc. Just bubbles to pop. And scrabble. But that’s not on Facebook … that’s actually installed on the computer. I am a scrabble addict and have been my whole life!

      Writing SHOULD be fun. Unless someone is paying you to do it. Then it’s okay if it’s work 🙂

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  5. I know a few writers and they always said that writer’s block was a fiction. You should just write and edit it later.

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    • Anyone who ever wrote for a living knows that writer’s block in usually something someone says who wants to be a writer. Dreams and aspires to being a writer. But, isn’t a writer. You are absolutely correct. Write. Edit and/or rewrite later. But in the case of non-fiction, do your research first.

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      • Like you Marilyn I do like to write, but it’s not the calibre of yours.., it’s just something I found I liked to do from time to time. As a kid, I never understood grammar or any of that stuff and so expressed myself poorly on paper. I did, however, harbor a dream that I could write the way I thought and spoke.., so grammar be damned I started doing that. I soon discovered I needed to understand more about what I was doing to express my thoughts, and so at the ripe old age of 50 something, working for a university, I took advantage of a course in grammar being offered. While it didn’t cure all of my faults, I finally understood what grammar and construction was all about. I’m still hashing through it all.

        As for writer’s block, my remedy is Freudian, or stream of consciousness. I let the words, right or wrong, flow as they may before the thoughts leave my feeble brain, and correct the construction later. There is never any “blocking” as there’s just too much running around in my head and too little time to get it out to worry about the right way to present it. Basically I think writers who suffer from “blocking” are just thinking too much and not writing enough.

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        • Way to go, Ben! Write first, edit later. Like any art, over-thinking the process is lethal.

          They stopped teaching formal grammar in public school before I started attending, so I picked up 90% of what I know by reading and through ONE college class in grammar. There are so few capable of teaching it, it’s a wonder anyone knows it at all. If you talk reasonably well (you do),if it sound “right” it probably is right, or close enough. Formal grammar is rarely required these days unless you are writing in an academic environment. Good to know the basics, but don’t let that stop you! The only people who have writer’s block are people who think they OUGHT to be writers, but aren’t 🙂

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  6. Good points. I do find I sometimes lock myself into an idea that I have to write about this one small subject when in fact, the world is available only limited by my narrowly focused mind.

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  7. I love this post. It made me realize sometimes I over think things and then don’t write at all. I question why anyone would want to read something that may hold meaning for me but why would they care, and as a result I don’t write. It’s not that I’m blocked, it’s as you said, “narrow focus.” Thanks for making me rethink writing. 🙂

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    • Glad it helped. Too much thinking is a creativity killer indeed. I just write. I always tell people I write quickly, but edit slowly. Because first and most important, get the stuff written. Worry about the details later!

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  8. Great post. I never thought about it in that way but I absolutely agree wit hti

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    • Thank you. I think it’s a bit more of an issue if you write for a living and have an editor and deadlines breathing down your neck. But even then, I could always get the job done. I wasn’t always at my brilliant best, but the work was at worst, professional and workmanlike and sometimes, that’s what you need to do.

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  9. Well said, Marilyn. I agree with you on this one. Writer’s block is not something I suffer from either. For me that would analogous to Breather’s Block! It has almost become an expectation if you are a writer – that you are, in some way, more creative if you spend days chewing your pen/pummelling your laptop, your mind completely blank. I can imagine, only too vividly, the anarchy that would have ensued had I said, in my teaching days, ‘Sorry, Class, got Teacher’s Block today…’ There’d have been a RIOT! xxx

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    • There definitely is an issue of mind over matter. When your deadline is looming and your boss is waiting for you to deliver the goods, writer’s block in a luxury you can’t afford. But some of us have more of a problem stopping the flow than starting it! I really can’t imagine sitting and staring at a page. Geez. If you feel that way about it, go do something else and come back later.

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  1. Daily Prompt: Writer’s Block Party | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice

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