As you read this, I am on the road to Left Coast Crime. I’m tagging along with my buddy Brett Battles and am not officially attending, so you’ll find me wandering around the hotel bar or lobby, probably looking a bit lost. If you’re attending and you see me, please either hand me a dollar or buy me a donut. I may even have time to chat.
So, with that said, I won’t be around to respond to today’s post, but I invite you to fill the comments with some lively conversation in my absence.
Today’s topic is writer’s block, which I’m sure has been discussed many times here at the Kill Zone. But a couple weeks ago, I offered my take on the subject on everybody’s favorite time-suck, Facebook, and this is what I said:
If you haven’t noticed, I’m extremely opinionated. Some might call it a fault. I think it simply means I have convictions. But I’m perfectly willing to change my opinion if someone can present me with compelling evidence to the contrary.
So sometimes my opinions piss people off. Today I expressed this opinion and it ruffled some feathers:
There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s an invention. It’s not a reason, it’s an excuse.
When challenged, I responded thusly:
“So do we have lawyer’s block or doctor’s block or mechanic’s block or accountant’s block? People in all of these professions experience bad days, they all get burned out, they all get stuck at times, but do they take the unprofessional route and stop what they’re doing? No. Unless they’ve had a complete breakdown (which is something else entirely), they keep doing their jobs.
There’s nothing special about being a writer. It’s a job. One I, and many of my friends, have been doing for more than a couple dozen years. None of us can AFFORD to get “blocked.” We write every day, seven days a week, no matter what.
Writer’s block is not a mental condition.
Stress, anxiety, etc.—real conditions that cause real problems—are good reasons for a writer, or any of the above professions, to stop working. But that’s not writer’s block, so let’s not pretend it is.
Nor is getting stuck.
Getting stuck is a natural part of the process, not a “block.” We get stuck simply because we haven’t thought our story—or our characters—through. Once we do, we get unstuck. It happens with nearly every story.
Sorry if I’m unsympathetic. But to my mind, you either do the job or you quit.
As for inspiration, if you need to wait for it in order to work, you might as well give it up.”
Now, you can imagine the response I got. Some positive, but one from a writer friend, who also happens to be a doctor, said I didn’t know what I was talking about. That writer’s block is a very real condition.
I respect this man’s opinion and value him as a friend, so I didn’t want to get too far into it with him. But my response to him was that there are certainly conditions that people suffer from—depression, anxiety, etc.—that can lead to writer’s block, but the block itself is merely a symptom of underlying problems. Unless you’re suffering from a mentally or physically debilitating disease, if you’re a writer, you should be writing. No excuses. So maybe the problem is defining what “writer’s block” is. How ever you define your writer’s block, if you truly do suffer from a lack of creative ideas and your “normal flow” seems to be ebbing you could have a look into consuming CBD products from sites such as cbdoilsuk.com as CBD in some users has been reported to increase their creativity and could help you get that “flow” back.
Since I don’t believe in it, however, I have a hard time defining it, but I can tell you what it isn’t.
If you are having problems with a story, if you’re stalled, if you’re staring at a blank page and nothing is coming that day, that’s not being blocked. That’s merely a setback. We all have them. We hit walls, we write ourselves into corners, we figure out solutions, and if we’re professionals, we press on.
And that’s true of anyone in any profession. If you want to get paid, you get to work.
Hell, I’m working right now and I’m NOT getting paid for it. And I had absolutely no idea what I’d be writing about today, but I sat down and did it anyway. As I’ve said, I can’t afford to be “blocked.”
Anyway, those are my rather inelegant and somewhat gruff—and yes, insensitive—views on the subject. Now, please, discuss amongst yourselves.
It’s quite possible it’s true what they say about me and I am crazy.
Now, does anyone have a donut?