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For Find Out Friday - Is Writer’s Block Real?

Who doesn't love the Golden Girls? Right?! 

They were so ahead of their time and hit on SO many topics, including writer’s block. 

As a writer myself I wondered if there was any scientific or other proof that it really exists? 

I have surely experienced writer’s block and insomnia much like our beloved Blanche Devereaux but is that a result of forces out of my control? Or is it my inability to sit down, focus, and really explore what I need to say when the words aren't pouring out easily? 

I decided to see where the information led me. 

Writer’s block can also be referred to as a creative block. That is not only writer’s but artists of all kinds who experience this form of torture, I mean struggle. 

Surprisingly there are a number of books published about not being able to write. There are the naysayers who discount writer’s block as laziness or inability to sit down and focus. Some of that may be true. But there could be numerous  underlying reasons.

According to Bruce Holland Rogers, writer’s block is a symptom of the emotional noise you have in your life. For instance if you have a serious health problem or had a major fight with your significant other, chances are you aren't going to get into the writing zone effortlessly. 

He wrote: 

“Ultimately, creative blocks generated by a Big Issue need to be resolved, or the resistance will only grow.”

I totally agree and have been there. Once your mood is changed it is hard to get to a zen place to write. Even though I a non-fiction writer and write about my life I still need that sense of clarity and peace in order to hear the words I must write.

Another insight is provided by 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."

While writer’s block is not an actual psychological diagnosis it does have underlying similarities. Most writer’s block seems to be intertwined with anxiety and too much pressure. It is believed to be the reason why some amazing authors only produce one masterpiece a lifetime. Once they have achieved massive success the stakes are much too high and it cripples them from being able to produce anything else. 

Writer’s block can last anywhere from a few moments to many decades, or a lifetime as was the case with Harper Lee after publishing one of the greatest books of all time; To Kill a Mockingbird. For her the spotlight of her tremendous success was agonizing. 

Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling has said to suffer severe writer's block between the success of her first book, while writing the second. Expectations were high and all of a sudden your entire career is at stake. Talk about pressure. While some can be motivating too much can simply stop you dead in your tracks. 

“Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all” 
― Charles Bukowski, The Last Night of the Earth Poems

Perhaps dear Charles is right, for I am taking his advice as I type this. 

For me when I feel a dense block upon my brain I do one of two things. First I try. REALLY try. I keep my laptop open and I force myself to stay off social media. If I don't find the words or the proper energy I take a break. If I am feeling the urge to write about something of which is not what I am supposed to be focusing on I allow myself that privilege. I always follow my gut. If I have something else to say I have to get it out before returning to the task at hand. 

Because I am a writer I live mostly in my head. I am always thinking twelve steps ahead in a very detailed manner whether I am recalling how I will literally do my food shopping or a book idea I am tossing around. I am constantly writing internally while I am doing a number of other tasking externally. If I am blocked about a specific piece I think about a number of ways to start. I feel like the beginning is where I am blocked most often. 

Another tool I like to employ is I write the parts of a piece I am most eager to. If I am stuck in the middle I work at the ending. If I am unmotivated how to start I outline the points I want to be sure to hit on. Sometimes this gets my creative juices following on their own. 

One writing rule I always, always, follow even before the onset of writer's block, is to make sure I am comfortable. That means I am wearing something comfy, I am not hot, I am not hungry or thirsty. I usually set the tone, light a candle and have the appropriate writing television show on which for me is either the Golden Girls or Law and Order. It is background noise that entertains me and because I have seen them all I do not need to focus on it. In other words you got to do what works best for you.

As with most things in our world now there are apps for solving the problem of writer’s block. They range from blocking your assess to social media (if you don't have the self control) so you aren't distracted, to suggesting words you can use based on what you have already written. I am not sure I would ever use these but if you are curious check out the last link below. 

No matter the cause writer’s block is real. 

And as Dorothy Zbornak said: 

“You have to be a writer in order to have writer’s block, otherwise everyone has it.”

Preach girl.

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