I keep asking myself this because the phrase, on a completely personal level, is an excuse. Just an excuse not to get the work done, plain and simple.
I recently read Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris and one of the things she says sticks with me. Writer’s block isn’t necessarily an inability to write, or locate the muse, but the product of other problems that hinder writing; poor planning. Losing the plot (*snerk*). Doubt about characters or story arc. This way of thinking implies that writer’s block is something that can be managed and avoided by taking pre-emptive measures.
I’m not sure I believe exactly that – novel writing is a creative activity, after all, and creativity can’t be forced – but I do feel that there is more to the problem, for me, which goes beyond an absence of the muse.
In my case, my head is so filled with a running total of nappies, sleeping patterns, the location of various bits of clothing, toys and important documents, that there is very little space left for creative writing. When I do get space, there are a dozen other things that I could be doing instead; washing up, vacuuming, sleeping (!!!), playing games, reading comics, reading other fiction…. Wshen I get passed all those things (by deciding to ignore them) and actually sit at the desk top, I’m hit by the final problem; I’m just too bloody tired!
So where does that leave me? Blocked?
In a manner.
In my case, writer’s block comes as a result of having too much to do, too little time and not enough sleep. Its not that my muse isn’t with me; I keep her chained to my side with adamantium locks and feed her well with scraps of chocolate. She isn’t going anywhere! In fact, twice in the past three weeks, I’ve woken up with an idea in the middle of the night and had to whisper it into my phone so I didn’t lose it (or wake the babies). No, my writer’s block is simply life.
What about you guys? How do you define writer’s block? What are your tricks for dealing with it? Do you believe it exists at all?!