How to cure writer's block










Writer’s block is one of those things we hear a lot about but can’t quite put our fingers on. I have never seen a definition of it anywhere because everyone assumes they know what it  means.

So, my assumption is that writer’s block is a condition kind of like FOOS disorder.

What is FOOS disorder you may ask?

I went to my family doctor a few years ago with a variety of physical complaints.  He examined me and said, “Steve, you have FOOS disorder.”

“What’s that, Doc?” I asked.

“Fat, old and out of shape,” he said.  I paid him $50 and went home.

Writer’s block is a  lot like that, I think, except it has two sure-fire cures.

The first of these remedies is from Caleb Pirtle, my friend and mentor. Early in our writing relationship, Caleb told me, “Nothing cures writer’s block like an empty refrigerator.”

If a person hopes to make a living or bring in a good supplemental income to his day job by writing, he doesn’t have time for writer’s block.  It is a luxury he can’t afford.

There is no way to whitewash this.  Writing is just plain old hard work, day in and day out. Indie writers who are trying to figure out the new world of digital publishing know this oh so well. They work all day at one job, half the night at social media promotion and the other half of the night writing. Sleep is overrated.

I left out the part about meditating on their navels while they consider the meaning of life. I left it out because there isn’t any time for it.  Just like writer’s block.

But I promised you two cures.

The second is a good one. Your books start selling.

What? Who ever heard of such a thing?

That’s right, you look up one day and your hard work laboring in obscurity begins to pay off. Your book rises in the Kindle rankings. You check your reports on Kindle Direct Publishing, and either there is an error in the system or people are buying your books.

Euphoria seizes you for a second, then you freeze. You consider the implications. Strangers are invading your secret world, the world you thought you had to yourself.  You go to your desk and sit down at the keyboard.

“I have to write some more books,” you say.

What writer’s block?



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  • I have read many times a definition of Writers Block, or more correctly, the causes of it. There can be many different causes, but most common seems to be when one can’t turn off the editor in their brains while they try to let the creative side flourish. Each time they try to write, the editor says “It’s not good enough.” So the creative shuts down and waits for inspiration to write the perfect scenes, perfect plots and perfect inspiration, which to the editorial side, is never.
    Quite often it is the ability to not listen to the editor in our heads, or the ability to turn it off, that removes writer’s block.

    • Robert, I agree. In writing the perfect is often the enemy of the good. So long as a writer looks for the prefect way to say something he will never get beyond the first chapter. He must let it flow until he gets to the end. Editing can come later. Thanks for the comment.

  • Caleb Pirtle

    I have personally never believed in writer’s block. Not wanting to write comes from being tired or frustrated or worried always about something else. Writer’s block is a self-imposed malady. It’s “I don’t want to write today” instead of “I can’t write today.” If I don’t want to write, I simply sit down, read a few pages from a favorite author, and can’t wait to get back to my own story.

  • I have done every kind of work in my life from drawing pretty pictures (advertising) to manual labor to computer programming. The truth is that writing is just as exhausting as any of them. Anyone who doesn’t approach it as a work of labor will never finish.

  • Christina Carson

    I once hear a poet interviewed on CBC radio. He mentioned to the interviewer that he wrote a poem a day. The interviewer stopped dead when he processed that bit of information. “A poem a day, for how long?”
    “Since my late teens.”
    “And you’re how old now?”
    “How on earth could you write a poem every single one of all those days?”
    “I didn’t say I always wrote a good one.”

    • Christina, right. Some of the stuff I have written sounded great when it first came out and looked pretty bad in the cool reflection of the next day. But there is no substitute for plugging along. Every now and then even a blind pig will find an acorn. Thanks for the comment.

  • Great post! Lots of food for thought. I’m a great believer in the discipline of writing. Probably not a popular thing to say, but I believe you can write, day after day, if you just get on with it and don’t get too wrapped up in second-guessing your work while you’re producing everything. It’s like the comment about the daily poems said: it doesn’t always have to be a good one. Just as long as you keep going!

    • Nicky, thanks for the comment. I agree entirely. It’s all a matter of sticking with it, day in and day out. Writing is just like any other discipline, the more you do it, the better you get.

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