Writer’s block is a myth created by people who are afraid to do the work.
There are various reasons writers let the blank page get the best of their emotions.
- Trying to be too perfect
- Procrastinating en route to excuses that usually include the word “But….”
- Unwilling to fail or write poor sentences first
- Living up to someone else’s expectations
- Being afraid to share their work
Writer’s block appears to be the work of evil. It wants us to quit and hide in shame instead of “dancing with the amygdala” as Seth Godin pleads on the very subject in his new podcast: ‘No such thing (as writer’s block).’ Stream it after the jump.
In reality, no one gets talker’s block just as a plumber never gets plumber’s block or a teacher gets teaching block. Such stuckness is a work of fiction.
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Forget inspiration and do the work
If we choose to be professional, we choose to show up consistently and dance with the fear. We develop habits that allow us to unlock what Steven Pressfield calls the resistance in his book The War of Art, compelling the muse to work with us rather than against us.
This is what Seth Godin says on facing the resistance:
“The resistance never goes away. The more important the work is, the louder it gets. The harder you try to make it go away, the harder and more clever it gets in response. The work is doing it when you don’t feel like it. Doing it when it’s not easy.”Seth Godin
Fear leads to inertia which leads to regret. The lizard brain wants us to run away and never come back.
What if instead of giving up, we started writing by doing it poorly, persisting through the maze of bad ideas. Only when we have something to work with can go back we tweak it.
Perfection is futile — writers rarely nail in a good sentence in the first draft. Rough drafts are expectedly shitty. All writing is in the edit, anyway.
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.” Charles Bukowski
If we write regularly, we’ll get better at avoiding the pain of getting stuck. Habits are everything. But if we do get blocked? Again, keep writing with no regard for perfection.
Said novelist John McPhee: “The funny thing is that you get to a certain point and you can’t quit. Because I always worried: If you quit, you’ll quit again. The only way out was to go forward, to learn your way and write your way out of it.”
In short, heed this writing advice: Don’t whine, don’t complain, get busy and make things. Speed-write, set an imaginary deadline, write by hand — do whatever it takes to get something down. And if we’re still stuck — go for walk while listening to Seth’s podcast below: