Writer’s block

Or: Why we keep making excuses

The very first time I came across the term ‘writer’s block’ was in Stephen King’s Bag of Bones. The protagonist, (not very) surprisingly an author, finds himself unable to write anything more than shopping lists after his wife’s sudden death. Every time he sat at his computer and opened a blank file, he suffered physically. It was like the mere act of writing caused him sickness.

That was King’s depiction of a writer’s block, which he described as a monstrous being, ready to devour an author. The protagonist, Mike Noonan knew he had writer’s block because he had a physical reaction to writing. Writers today don’t suffer the way Noonan did in the book. They know they have writer’s block because they do not sit down to write. That’s all.

A great number of authors or aspiring authors believe that inspiration is magic. You fall under a spell, you enter the ‘zone’ and you keep writing till you have a masterpiece in your hands. Spoiler alert: this is not how it works.

Yes, inspiration might strike you at a random moment, but it will most often offer you just a hint of an idea, not even the whole thing. A writer’s job is to manage to use this tiny fragment and build a whole city out of it. The way to do it is one brick at a time.

In his book On Writing, King explains why writing is, in fact, a job. You need to have steady hours, you need to write every day even if you don’t feel like it. The ‘muse,’ he says, has to know when and where to find you.

Don’t believe in all that? No problem here, just know this. The only way to overcome a writer’s block is to sit down and write.

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