I’ve been pondering a somewhat controversial debate in the writing community and thought I’d lay out my thoughts on the matter here. Does writer’s block exist? While it may seem like a simple yes or no answer, it is actually a somewhat complicated debate depending on how you look at it. Now, I know I’m delving into a touchy subject for some writers, so I hope if you have some thoughts on the matter, you’ll leave a comment at the end or even use the contact me page if you want to get into a deeper conversation about the topic, as long as responses are respectful and kind.
The Mystical Writer’s Block
Wikipedia defines writer’s block as “a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. This loss of ability to write and produce new work is not a result of commitment problems or the lack of writing skills.” So, basically, a writer looses steam at no fault of their own.
Now, any writer who’s been working for more than a few months has almost certainly experienced a loss of creativity at some point. I know after I finished the second draft of Shenanigans, I felt like I had nothing left in me. I wanted to take a week or two off in December and then start brainstorming my next book, but I ended up taking the entire month off.
Even now, it is really hard to get the words down even though I was so excited to start writing the third draft. But would I say that some unknowable force is blocking my creativity? Some days it feels like it.
Symptom or Problem?
The other school of thought is that writer’s block does not, in itself, exist. Do writer’s at times feel blocked? Of course. But this line of thinking determines that writer’s block is merely a symptom of a greater issue. Is the writer dealing with a mental illness such as anxiety or depression? Are they in an atmosphere that limits concentration? Are they feeling creative exhaustion?
In my opinion, writers are touchy creatures. How many of us need a particular blanket, snack, or drink in order to comfortably work? Many of us like to write in bed while others thrive writing in public places like Starbucks. Just think… if a small change in a writer’s routine can cause them to struggle to write the same quality and/or quantity than when they are in their preferred writing space, then how damaging would it be to their creativity to deal with mental illness, large life changes, or the inability to concentrate?
I’m firmly in the camp that writer’s block is not some creative forcefield that pops up and prevents writers from working. I think we all have times when we feel blocked, but after some self reflection, I believe that there will typically be a reason behind it. About half of the time, it may not matter too much whether it’s called writer’s block or something else. There’s so much in life that we can’t control. For instance, it is a struggle to write in the middle of a pandemic, for a multitude of reasons. But there are certainly instances where calling it writer’s block may lead a writer to miss the contributing factor because they assume the universe is at play.
What are your thoughts on the topic? Have you ever experienced writer’s block? Did you find it was caused by something else in your life? What did you do to reignite your creativity? Leave me a comment and sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date on BookWyrm Cove! Happy writing, BookWyrms!