How to Navigate Writer’s Block (Writer Worksheet Wednesday)

Writer's Block

Creative Writer Worksheet – Writer’s Block (PDF)

Writer’s block is a myth. And if I hadn’t received hundreds of emails from writers claiming to be afflicted by it, I wouldn’t even acknowledge its presence.

Here’s Philip Pullman on the subject:

“Writer’s block…a lot of howling nonsense would be avoided if, in every sentence containing the word WRITER, that word was taken out and the word PLUMBER substituted; and the result examined for the sense it makes. Do plumbers get plumber’s block? What would you think of a plumber who used that as an excuse not to do any work that day?

The fact is that writing is hard work, and sometimes you don’t want to do it, and you can’t think of what to write next, and you’re fed up with the whole damn business. Do you think plumbers don’t feel like that about their work from time to time? Of course there will be days when the stuff is not flowing freely. What you do then is MAKE IT UP. I like the reply of the composer Shostakovich to a student who complained that he couldn’t find a theme for his second movement. “Never mind the theme! Just write the movement!” he said.

Writer’s block is a condition that affects amateurs and people who aren’t serious about writing. So is the opposite, namely inspiration, which amateurs are also very fond of. Putting it another way: a professional writer is someone who writes just as well when they’re not inspired as when they are.”

If we avoid work in any other instance we call it, “laziness”, “slacking”, or “procrastination”, but if it’s writing we give it the Grand Title of “writer’s block”?? Oh, woe, how we are beset by this, our noble ailment! NO.

Let’s call “writer’s block” by its proper name:  a socially accepted (or at least perpetuated) but feeble excuse not to write what you want or need to write

And let’s get on with our vocation (or avocation).

Your forfeit for landing on this post: Brainstorm a way to escape each dark block and use each white block in this worksheet. If you’re ever tempted to pull the “writer’s block” card again, pick a block (or a random number from 1-48) and follow your own advice.

P.S. I realise this worksheet makes some unsound distinctions between “good” and “bad”. As always, I would encourage you to deconstruct them as you go.