What is Writer’s Block?

From time to time, you’ll start to write. You’ll go to your desk, or in my case my bed. You’ll get out your notebook or your laptop. You’ll go through your little rituals. Mine is tying my hair in a scarf, putting on my reading glasses, and getting a nice cup of hot tea. Usually chamomile when I write. You go to put your pen to paper, or your fingers to keys and–nothing. You’re frozen. You lose everything that you were going to put on paper today.

You go from writing the great American novel to the literary prowess of a potato in the span of seconds that feel like hours. All the hopes and dreams you had for this project seem to be slipping away. There go the book sales. The critical success. The admiration of your peers. There go the awards you were going to win. And the movie adaption you had in mind. You know, the one where Jared Leto plays your hero. Don’t tell me you haven’t daydreamed about who would be in the adaptation. What, is that just me?

There are a lot of ways to think of writer’s block. Yes, they all suck. Some people think of it as a lack of inspiration. Others think they’ve fallen out of favor with the muse. Neither of these quite hit it on the head for me. I prefer to think of it in different terms. My imaginary friends won’t talk to me. And that sucks even more, really. My imaginary friends are all assholes, though. Fickle, moody assholes. We have fights when they don’t like what they find out is going to happen to them. They rebel. They’re probably off at a bar or something. You know, the same bar your muse bailed on you to go to. They’re having a party and you weren’t invited.

Now if you’re anything like me, meaning that you have to write, writer’s block can feel like a fate worse than death. And having not experienced death firsthand, I can’t tell you that it isn’t. If you’ve ever had it you know all of the warning signs that are associated with this. Not writing can lead to anxiety. Like a lot of it. And depression too. Because there’s no way to exorcise your demons without the writing. It can lead to isolating yourself because you want to break the writer’s block, then more anxiety when it doesn’t happen. You neglect yourself in every possible way and spend a lot of time staring at walls or at blank pages. Or worse, you stare at pages you’ve filled and wonder if those were the last words you’ll ever write. But they aren’t. You’ll make it through this. I’m not going to blow smoke up your skirt and tell you it’ll be easy, but you can beat it.

I was sixteen the first time I got a particularly bad case of writer’s block. I had heard the phrase before, but at the time didn’t know much about the creative process and knew little about writers specifically. Just that I knew this was what I wanted to do forever and ever, amen. Maybe my eighth novel or so. I remember exactly which one it was. Sometime around the mushy middle. A sort of tumultuous, angsty love story. And I was in the middle of one of my own. I went to the park with a very dear friend/aforementioned love, and sat on a bench. He stared up at the trees while I just talked. And talked. And talked. But I suppose he was used to that. And I worked it out. And so can you. I pinkie swear.

In short, writer’s block drives you slowly insane. And it’s horrible. But you can beat it. I’m living proof. In my short years, I’ve had what I thought was going to be terminal writer’s block half a dozen times or so. All lasting months and months. More on that to follow. I should really get back to writing while the muse still favors me.

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