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C.C. Hogan

I Really Don't Have Writer's Block

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There is no cure for something that does not exist.

I have to put my hands up immediately and say that I do not believe in an exclusive idea like Writer's Block. 

Right, got my bias out the way and now I can say why and to be honest this is not going to be a very long post.

Bernard Cornwall in an interview with the York Press said " I absolutely do not believe in the concept of writer’s block. Put it this way: do nurses say I can't come because I have nurse’s block?"

It is a good point and more or less wraps up the argument against the idea of writers block, but just to be annoying, let's take it a little further.

I have been in the creative industries for well over thirty years and the pressure to come up with idea after idea can get pretty brain numbing after a while, but as long a client is paying there is little choice but to deliver the goods, on time and preferably in good condition. 

There tends to be two approaches to the situation where you cannot find an idea; panic and say you have writer's block or come up with a bad one and see where that leads.

I have been trading on the second approach my entire writing life, basically on the principle that there is no such thing as a "bad" idea, only one that doesn't work, and if something in this world doesn't work, the best thing to do is fix it. Simple.

Writer's Block is a cliché bordering on a cult. It is a label we can stick on a situation quite often because we are being too lazy to address the real problem. That could be anything:

  • My cat is ill and I want to deal with that first.
  • My main character is a pain in the butt.
  • My plot is crap.
  • My plot is good but my previous chapter was crap.
  • I want to write something else entirely.
  • Who's stupid idea was this to become a writer?
  • I have constipation.
  • I can't stop thinking about that girl/boy on the bus this morning.
  • I refuse to admit that the first idea I thought of might actually be okay.
  • I am waiting for the words to glow mystically on the page as I type.
  • I am being plain lazy
  • I am indulging my need to be a depressive git
  • My plot and characters are fine, it is me that is crap.

And so on ...

The point is that Writer's Block is not a thing in itself, but just an excuse for something else. Address the something else and the writer's block which doesn't exist in the first place also feels better.

But we don't. We can't think of something to say, so we announce we have Writer's Block and stomp moodily round the house making ourselves and everyone else miserable. 

What is the cure then?

There isn't one. Methods for dealing with writer's block are a complete waste of time because not only are you trying to cure the incurable, but the non-existent and what is the point of that.

If you are short of an idea, don't give the shortness a label, just do what everyone else in every other walk of life does; find the real reason why you are not functioning, solve that, and get on with servicing that client as they deserve - even when that client is you.

Alternatively, just write a pile of crap - it might be a whole lot better than you think!

Happy Writing.


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