Do You Believe In Writers Block?


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.

Lazy sleeping barnstarIn 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.

Makes me wonder how I’m going to deal with that and avoid having life giving me a mega bitch-slap for trying to best it.lion with black eye from OpenClipArt

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?!

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About Ileandra Young

I'm a thirty-*mumbles* year old (purple loving, cheese worshipping) author of fantasy, juggling a pair of beautiful twin boys with my burning desire to make up stories and write them all down. When I get the chance, I play games, listen to music, and in days long past I even ran a radio show. Though I occasionally write non-fiction, my heart lives in fantasy and my debut novel, Silk Over Razor Blades is now available through Amazon along with part two of the trilogy, Walking The Razor's Edge.
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24 Responses to Do You Believe In Writers Block?

  1. Trent Lewin says:

    I don’t think tired/stressed is writer’s block. It’s just tired/stressed. But to answer the question in your title, I do believe in it. We talk about it so much that I think it becomes validated.

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    • From the string of replies to this post I have to concede you’re probably right.
      Funny how validation and credence can be given to things simply by the weight of those who believe in it.

      Reminds me of the kids stories that say any time someone says they don’t believe in faeries, one will die. o.O

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      • Trent Lewin says:

        I agree, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. We often misinterpret gaps in creativity with some mystical force, but really you need to be in good shape to do anything. Even olympic athletes know that when they don’t sleep, they perform poorer; why would writing, which exerts so much more mental work, be any different? We have to forgive ourselves our humanity in order to write, and have to know when we’re stretched.

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  2. Pingback: Do You Believe In Writers Block? « Writing: A Conversation Without ... | Writing publishable papers in English | Scoop.it

  3. susankarins says:

    I think you pretty much nailed it! I don’t really believe in writer’s block either but I do believe in distractions. And life is a pretty huge distraction. The hard part is to get back on track with your writing. What works for me ( sometimes, not all of the time) is to just skip to a random part in my manuscript and reread a few sentences. This gets me back into the story. It might make me smile or frown but in the end I’m back in the story and can start writing again.
    By the way, I trying to catch up on your 80 day writing challenge-what a great idea and journey. Please tell me you enjoyed it and I might try it as well;-)

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    • Hi Susan!
      Maybe I’m thinking about it the wrong way then; it appears my definition doesn’t quite match that of others, but that’s not anything new. Certainly ‘distractions’ is a great way to describe what’s happening to me and that is only to be expected. So maybe I’m physically blocked, rather than mentally blocked as the common definition seems to be.

      Oh and the 80 Post Challenge was GREAT fun. Some questions were a bit tricky to answer, but once I got into the swing of it, I had a ball. And if you like those questions, Tom has another selection of questions in a similar list that you could try. 🙂

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  4. 4amWriter says:

    I think that what you’re experiencing isn’t writer’s block, unless you can’t get your ideas flowing? It’s one thing to sit down and be too tired to write down your ideas, it’s a different problem if you aren’t getting ideas period.

    I have always considered writer’s block to be a mental/spiritual issue. Not a physical issue (i.e, overtired, no time, full schedule, etc.) Those things can impede upon your muse, imagination, whatever you want to call it, but if you’re still getting ideas coming, then I don’t think you’re blocked. You just need to restructure your day somehow. Trust me, I know how impossible that is.

    Is there any way you can dictate your story into a recorder while you’re feeding the kids or while you’re fixing them food? I don’t have one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they sell recorders with headphones and a little mike (I know they have these kinds of gadgets for cell phones). You could just clip the thing to your pocket, put on the headphones and dictate your story while your hands are busy doing Life things.

    But if you’re not getting ideas, then that’s probably writer’s block and I’ll come back with a different answer. 😉

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    • I looooooooove that idea! I spend a good portion of this afternoon looking into a dictaphone. I can record on my phone, but only five minutes at a time – which would just get tedious – but if I had a dictaphone, I may even be able to link it to my computer so that the playback is transcribed for me! I’d need to go back to it afterwards and correct it, adding grammar and the like, but can you imagine how much easier it would make the writing process?! You be genius! ^_^

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  5. jmmcdowell says:

    I agree with Kate—if the ideas are coming, you’re not blocked. It’s when we truly can’t figure out what to write or how to fix something already written that we’re staring at the brick wall. Some writers say it doesn’t exist. I think they’re “whistling in the dark” and trying to avoid the beast. 🙂

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    • The ideas are certainly still coming, so I guess its not the same thing that some people describe. Hell, I’d really panic if I stopped having ideas.
      Some days I just can’t get the ideas down into words, but even that’s not the same thing.

      I remember back in university I had a month or two of absolutely dead-head space. I couldn’t think of anything or do anything. Even my mapping project suffered and that should have been easy; I didn’t need ideas exactly, I had my findings from the field work! Since then I’ve not had another period in which I had so much trouble coming up with anything new, so I suppose I should be grateful for that.

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  6. Mary Rhoads says:

    I’m a believer.

    Coming from a family with dyslexia, and having my own serious problems with sequencing and ordering ideas, I genuinely believe in writer’s block, although this may not be a problem for you. Watching my own children struggling with dyslexia, ordering ideas and learning to get them out, it isn’t a joke, and I forgive myself for my difficulties at school and university. It is probably why I am not a writer, although I passed a milestone about 10 years ago and writing is no longer such a struggle.

    That said, having four month old twins isn’t a block, it’s a 200% full time occupation. If you get any time for yourself, you are way ahead of me both times when I had four month old babies. With my first, I was back at work as I only got 13 weeks maternity leave.

    That said, I am constantly encouraging that first baby to plan her work, as it really does help with the sequencing problems.

    X Mary

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    • I must admit, I sometimes forget I have twin babies. Not in a literal sense, but when thinking about what I want to do and when I want to do it, I forget that all the time I *used* to have is now spent on far more important things; being with my boys.

      I can’t imagine what it would be like to have only 13 weeks away from work too. I’ve had far more than that already (I left work a month early!). I think I should just be grateful that I have as much time as I do and keep reminding myself that time will come. Eventually.

      Like Kate says, it may simply be that I need to give my day a bit of a shuffle to fit more time in.

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  7. Kana Tyler says:

    Writer’s Block definitely exists in my world, and my definition is a broad one: any time there’s a part of my mind that WANTS to be writing, but I’m NOT writing. Usually it’s life that’s getting in the way, as you say—kid-stuff or home-stuff or work-stuff or… And the rest of the time it’s my own brain getting in the way! I’m over-thinking or under-thinking or stuck somehow in the process of trying to shape the thing in my head so it will work on the page…

    I don’t have a remedy for the first type–Life (especially Mommying) comes ahead of writing. The second kind? The only thing that works for me (at least when I kick myself in the butt and actually make myself do it) is to sit down at the keyboard and tell myself I’m going to write without stopping to think, no matter what kind of drivel might be appearing on the screen… Usually what happens is that I end up with a big chunk of garbage, sometimes I end up with something that’s not garbage but doesn’t have a damn thing to do with what I MEANT to be writing… and sometimes, amidst the garbage, I end up with a line or two that sparks the “Aha!” and gets me going again in earnest. Not an efficient process, but it’s what I’ve got. 😉

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    • If it works, don’t knock it, I’d say. Some days I really do just sit and write and see what comes out. A lot of my flash began that way and its going to be hilarious to see what I actually wrote when I go back to edit it.
      Thing is though, sometimes the act of writing anything at all is enough to break out of the funk that I associate with being blocked. So I like your method; its really close to mine!

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Writer’s block- There is a rumor going around of a thing called writer’s block. It’s a debilitating disease amongst the writing community, with symptoms such as anxiety upon seeing blank pages, delirium tremens, and playing Angry Birds while you give yourself time to think of what you’re going to write. Alright, so I made those up, but you get the drift. We’ve all seen it or heard it before. Ready for the big reveal? Are you sitting down? You are? Good; here it is… There’s no such thing. Writer’s block only exists because Hollywood needed a reason for their handsome and tortured novelist protagonists to get into some frivolous hijinks so that they could have a movie. Because if there is one thing that is boring in a movie, it’s a novelist protagonist who actually produces pages consistently. No one wants to watch Jimmy Stewart typing on a keyboard and nursing a scotch for an hour and a half.

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  9. Juls says:

    When I used to write, it certainly did exist. Of course it existed alongside times in my life that were stressful, busy or simply lacking in inspiration and, like you, I realised that, of course, there was a cause for it all. It often began with a loss of momentum from a change in routine and whilst I could force myself out of it, the process of that could take months – it’s difficult to concentrate on developing a plot line when you’re worrying about money or employment or exams and other ‘more pressing’ issues than what was in front of you.
    Of course, not to get all sad on you (this is, after all, something in the past that is dealt with), after I underwent ECT the change was very different which was, perhaps, not unexpected after having my brain ‘changed’. Now I absolutely cannot write in the same way I once did, I can’t remember or hold the same train of thought, I can’t concentrate on a character long enough to maintain interest in them, words get confused, I forget what happened a paragraph ago, I’ve completely and utterly lost that natural flow that came with writing. It’s hard to describe, even after nearly seven years. I wish now, with the beauty of hindsight, I had managed the stresses and routine changes in my life better to have taken advantage of that precious time that I wrote well in because writer’s block, whilst difficult and upsetting, was something one could break out of and if I had known I would lose that natural ability forever, I would never have let it absorb so many precious months of my life each time.

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    • That must be difficult. A shame too; to lose access to an ability like that. Hindsight can be cruel in that respect.

      And I still feel that external problems and/or distractions can be contributory to the issue. As you say; how easy is it to come up with creative tales when worrying about how to pay the next bill (which certainly did happen while I was at uni), or how to balance work with lectures. I almost felt that all the energy I might have put into being creative was sucked up just by living. And not just physical energy, but almost in a spiritual sense as there was little of ‘me’ left to give over to writing.

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  10. I believe in writer’s block but it has never affected me. For those with writer’s block, I would suggest buying a good voice recognition program and learning how to dictate. No one ever had talker’s block!………lol

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