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The Legacy of Androva Series

Defining Writer's Block πŸ”


Today’s blog post is a few more musings about the writing process with specific reference to the dreaded writer’s block.

First of all, does it even exist?

If you hadn’t already guessed, the jury is still out! When I researched writer’s block, I discovered a lot of information. It’s a widely recognized term, but there’s no conclusive definition of exactly what it means.
In my opinion, (YMMV), writer’s block is more than I can’t write because it’s always possible to write something. However, you can also feel unable to write, for a variety of reasons. It’s a personal thing, which seems to be where the grey area arises. Is it possible to overcome it using willpower alone? And if it is, does that mean it’s not authentic?

The case for:
“I tell my students there is such a thing as ‘writer’s block,’ and they should respect it. You shouldn’t write through it. It’s blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven’t got it right now.”
—Toni Morrison

The case against:
“Writer’s block is a phony, made up, BS excuse for not doing your work.”
Jerry Seinfeld

I found more quotes discounting writer’s block than acknowledging it. However, given the many websites out there offering solutions, I would also say it’s a real problem for a lot of writers. It’s happened to me in the past, and I’m sure it will happen again.

What causes writer’s block?

Every writer has a different experience, so I can only explain this from my perspective. Here are my top five triggers:

1.      I’m a pantser. I’ve tried to be a plotter. I suck at it. I suck less at being a pantser, but I wish I could plot. At some point during each book, the lack of plot will intimidate me so much that I stop writing. Or else I write very slowly, doubting every sentence.
2.      The halfway point of each book is often a pivotal moment. It feels like I’ve written too much to start again, but also… what if it’s terrible?
3.      If the upcoming chapter is vital to the story, I’m often scared I won’t do it justice, so I put off writing it.
4.      Sometimes I edit the most recent chapter, and I discover I hate nearly every word in it. I should rewrite it, but I know it’s going to be tough. And it feels wrong to write the next chapter before I fix the previous one. So I end up not writing.
5.      The temptation to procrastinate! This includes internet research, creating aesthetics, Twitter, adding to my TBR list, making a fuss of my cat, and staring out of the window. My desk looks over a small area of ancient woodland, which is beautiful but distracting.

I feel like I have to mention that some people say writer’s block doesn’t exist because there’s no “teacher’s block,” or “plumber’s block,” or whatever. And yes, when I arrive at my day job every weekday morning, I never sit at my desk unable to work. (Perhaps that means I’m better at my day job than I am at writing!). I think it comes down to the unpredictability of it. When I’m writing, nothing works the same way twice, and I don’t have the same confidence in my abilities.

Is there a sure fire way to overcome it?

Well, if I knew the answer to this one, I suspect I’d have written a lot more books by now πŸ˜‰. In the end, it’s about not giving up. I can usually find a way around the problem as long as I persevere.

“When faced with writer’s block, lower your standards and keep going.”
—Sandra Tsing Loh

Thank you for visiting my blog today, and if you have writer’s block right now I wish you a speedy recovery!

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