Thursday, November 14th, 2019

Dealing with Writer’s Block


I was going to write a timely post about I Love to Write Day (which is tomorrow), but you know what, friends? As much as I “Love to Write,” the well was dry. Still, after several minutes of having a staring contest with the WordPress backend, I decided to snap out of it and look for advice or a solution. Luckily, the Internet is filled with writerly wisdom. Some of the best tips and arguments for/against writer’s block that I found were, unsurprisingly, by well-published authors. A few favorites below:

Mark Twain: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

Hilary Mantel: “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party […]”

Maya Angelou: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’ ”

Colson Whitehead: “[Writer’s block is] a question I haven’t answered yet, but I trust that in 2 hours, 2 days, or 2 months I will eventually answer it. Maybe I have to keep writing and come back to that part of the story later. Maybe I have to do some more research. Maybe it’ll come to me in the shower. But eventually I’ll figure it out.”

Carmen Maria Machado: “I believe so strongly that writers need to read, and that reading is the way you can prevent writer’s block or get over writer’s block. You can’t keep writing if you’re not filling your gas tank with whatever you want to read.”

Patrick Rothfuss: “[Writers’ block] does not exist. We’ll state it flatly. Sometimes, writing is super hard. Just like any other job. Or, if it’s not your job, sometimes it’s hard to do a thing even if it is your hobby. But no plumber ever gets to call in to work, and they’re like ‘Jake, I have plumber’s block,’ you know? What would your boss say?! I have teacher’s block. I have accounting block. They would say ‘You are fired! You have problems and you are fired. Get your ass in here and plumb some stuff, Jerry!’ ”

Nora Ephron: “[As] a newspaper reporter you learn that no one tolerates you if you are cold; it’s one thing you are not allowed to be. It’s not professional. You have to turn the story in. There is no room for the artist.”

Steve Almond: “There is no ‘solution.’ Or rather, every writer finds her own way out. My own solution has been to set the bar as low as possible – to simply get yourself to the keyboard and try to get some words down. That’s all you can do. Show up and try. Devote as much attention as you can to the work, and try to ignore the noise in your head about whether you’re good enough [or] will ever get published – that whole narcissistic loop. It’s attention directed at the wrong drama.”

Charles Bukowski: “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”

And sometimes, the well is dry because you should’ve been posting about writer’s block the whole time. What are some of the ways you get over writer’s block? Comment below!




The Writer Magazine


Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


A modern notebook since 1934

Buy Rhodia