You Don’t Have Writer’s Block

Writer's Block 1

This the guy you want to be? (Photo credit: OkayCityNate)

Stop saying that. You know why you don’t have it? Because it doesn’t fucking exist. You might as well say you have Chupacabra Warts. Actually, I’d rather people said that, because at least I’d get to hear the word ‘chupacabra’ more often.*

Writer’s block is a myth, perpetuated by generations of romantics and slackers. I get the draw. It’s easier to say, “I have writer’s block” than to address the actual causes of a lack of production. You can look tormented. You can put on Tragic Face™ and sigh as you stare longingly out a window.


Sorry. Something in my throat. Let’s take a look at what might be slowing you down:

1. I don’t know what to write. Happens to the best of us. Sometimes you’re out of ideas. That’s when you hit the writer’s prompts (just Google it, you’ll find them). Or I’ll write first lines. A dozen of the fuckers. Some are crap, but occasionally I get a new story idea from them. Or, my favourite, check the submission guidelines. Anthology calls, magazine listings, journals, whatever. If there’s a deadline and the promise of cash, you’d be surprised how many ideas you come up with.

2. I don’t know what happens next in my story. Check your outline. Don’t have an outline? Ask yourself, “How can I raise the stakes?” What’s going to make your characters pull their thumbs out of their butts and act? Gunshot wound? Ominous noise in the dark? Letter from an old friend? Chupacabras at the door? Whatever. Do that. If it doesn’t work, you can always take it out later. But I’ve had great scenes come from this kind of Plot Spackle. (Good old Plot Spackle. I love that shit. I’ll do a post on this on Monday, so stay tuned.)

3. I’m waiting for my muse.  …Seriously? Go read this post, and then come back. I’ll wait.

…Done? All right. If you’re going to wait for inspiration, you’re going to have a lot of blank pages, my friend. Inspiration is great, but sooner or later you’re going to have to do without it. Those days, you just have to go out and find your muse.

4. I’m scared. Of screwing up the story. Of discovering you don’t have what it takes to write. Of being found out. In my opinion, this is the real cause of most ‘writer’s block’. Uncertainty and fear, the twin demons of a rather boring hell. Easiest way around them is to face them. Be honest with yourself about what’s holding you back. Understand that you’re scared, and that’s okay.
And then crush those bastards under your foot like a prehistoric cockroach. Feel them crunch. And wipe their splattered guts off your shoes before going back to writing. It doesn’t matter what you write at that point. It can be crap. It’s just a zero draft. Just write. Don’t let those crunchy little bastards win.

5. I don’t want to write. Then don’t. Go do something else. Surely to God your pantry needs cleaning, or your collection of stuffed goat heads needs organizing. Something. Unless you’re on a deadline, no one’s making you do this.
Or suck it up and write anyway. I often find my best work comes on days that I did not want to write. It was all in my head anyway; I just had to get it out. The only thing in my way was me.

So ask yourself: what’s in your way? And what are you going to do about it?

*If you say it a bunch of times in a row, it sounds like you’re summoning an Elder God: ChupacabrachupachabrachupacabraCHUPACABRA.

**”Wanker. Noun: one who wanks.” -Garth Ennis

9 thoughts on “You Don’t Have Writer’s Block

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