Writer’s Block

I don’t recall talking about this fearsome obstruction before, and I came across an opinion by the great Philip Pullman, with which I heartily agree:

‘I don’t believe in it (writer’s block). All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?’

I’ve never suffered from being ‘blocked’. I didn’t do any creative writing for years, but that was more down to depression and a lack of self-belief. I know that it could be argued that not believing in yourself is the cement that holds writer’s block together, but there are still techniques to get things flowing again.

If I stop feeling the creative flow, slipping out of the groove, I’ll do something else. Editing is always there, and it’s sufficient purgatory to encourage a return to creative writing. An alternative is to make plans for future novels in my series Cornish Detective crime novels, jotting down ideas and web addresses for relevant research in folders on my desktop. I find that writing poetry or song lyrics sometimes frees up ideas relevant to my WIP.

If you are affected by writer’s block, just consider what it’s made of. It could be a great big block of sugar, which (forgive the crudity) will dissolve if you just pee on it. By that, I mean release your inner demon— writing down what makes you mad about books in general, how you hate specific characters in your story and how the hell did that author get published when you can’t find an agent? Your anger is mightier than any temporary glitch.

A more genteel way to destroy an obstruction is to go around it. If you’re stuck on chapter 18, throw some paper airplane messages ahead for what occurs in chapter 20. Whether you’re a ‘planner’ or a ‘pantser’ you’ve still got an idea of where your story is headed, so jot down key phrases you intend to use, chuck in an unexpected development or think of a way to include a favourite word you’ve always wanted to use.

Creating a book is like taking a walk in a forest—there’s more than one path through the trees.

Have any of you been blocked, and how did you deal with it? 

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