I recently read an article about writer’s block and how to work yourself out of it. I laughed. Some people will disagree, but there is really no such thing as writer’s block. It is many things: procrastination, laziness, being too busy, the every-day sort of depression you get when you’re sad about something, clinical depression, wanting to do something else instead, the list goes on and on. Calling any of your extended periods of not writing “writer’s block” is just romanticizing the facts. You can write if you want to. Anyone who wants to write can carve out enough time to write one hundred words a day. That’s about a paragraph. Or two. And over a year one hundred words a day equals about half of a completed book.
Many of us expect the words to flow, and often they do. But there are times you have to fight for each and every paragraph. Some writers have to fight for each sentence, and a select few do it word by word. This is not writer’s block. It’s just a hard writing day. Reading scads and scads of how-to books on writing and doing nothing else but attending writer’s meetings and conventions is not writer’s block. This is simply “not writing.” Probably because you don’t really want to write. I had a long period just like this about twenty years ago, and at one point I seriously considered giving up on my pretension of writing. This wasn’t writer’s block. It was having a lot more things I wanted to do instead.
I made a commitment instead. To write every day (well, most days) and complete whatever I started. Romance Writers of America and its local groups were a big help to me in keeping this commitment. In fact, they require a commitment, though they don’t check up on you to make sure. I completed my first novel by following their rules of membership. I finished my second novel many, many years after that when I joined Romance Writers of America for the second time. I finished my third and fourth novels because of the opportunities suddenly offered by Amazon.com and its Kindle Direct Publishing program.
Everyone using the excuse that they’ll never be published anyhow, or no one will read their books if they are published, now has had that rug pulled out from under their feet. You can be published and you can reach readers. Don’t let “writer’s block” hold you back. Finish what you start, every time. Don’t follow my example in taking a ten-year hiatus “writer’s block” vacation from writing. It was one of my biggest mistakes. And I guess I can claim it as “writer’s block” if I want to. Makes me sound more romantic.
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Snowbound by Blake Crouch. Bitter Recoil by Steven F. Havill.