So I reappeared in the world late last week and while I was writing that post I realized that I had a rant to share with the world. It’s sort of apropos considering November is National Novel Writing Month and we’re half-way through it. I’m sure at this point there are lots of writers out there who need a little bit of encouragement and they’re feeling that mid-project slump. I know it well.. and yes, it will pass. I promise.
As for the rant, it’s obviously my opinion, but I think it’s a pretty legitimate one. People shouldn’t feel bad about the inability to write, and I’m going to tell you why. This rant, ladies and germs, is about
I’ve been to lots of conventions and I’ve heard lots of arguments on this subject. Some I agree with, and some I don’t.
Let’s start with the arguments I don’t agree with:
1. It’s an excuse people use for being lazy.
2. It doesn’t exist.
3. It’s a creation of the mind and is easily overcome.
4. It’s not real. It just means you don’t know what you’re doing.
Of those four, the first one makes me irrationally angry… to the point where I did, in fact, blast a fellow author in the middle of a panel for spitting that out with such snot-nosed conviction that it made the audience uncomfortable. I don’t think it was the statement so much as the way it was said. I’m sorry, but when you’re on a panel and telling people your methods for writing and how to become one, you can’t be mean about things like this… and in the writing world this one is a pretty hot topic.
Here’s how I see it…
Writer’s Block is absolutely real. It isn’t one specific thing, though. It’s the term any writer gives to a situation that blocks him or her from accomplishing the task of putting words on paper. Whether it’s a form of depression or a busy workload or school or research or even exhaustion, it doesn’t matter. If it stops me from writing, it’s a block.
Depression is a big one. Trust me on that, I know well.
Looking at the big picture, Writer’s Block is an undefined variable in the life of an author. It’s the name you give to your current problem. It’s how you easily explain to a reader/author/agent/editor/publisher/whoever why you haven’t been able to write something.
Laziness is not classified as Writer’s Block as some would have you believe. Laziness is laziness, and every writer knows that. If I want to procrastinate, then damn it I’m going to procrastinate and I know full well that it isn’t Writer’s Block.
And no, not every author knows all the time where every single story goes. When you get hopelessly stuck on a story and you don’t know where to go next, yes, that is a form of Writer’s Block as well. IT DOES NOT MEAN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Not every writer adheres to that formulaic philosophy. Some of us like to wing it and we have unconventional ideas. There isn’t a thing wrong with that, even if it means we don’t always get to the end of the story as fast as a hardcore plotter.
Personally, that’s the point when I put down the pen and walk away for a few minutes. I go cook, or I go for a walk, or I go play video games. And then I come back to the story and if I still can’t fix it, I move on to the next project until that one unlocks. There’s a reason I have so many projects going at once.
My response to “I don’t have writer’s block because I don’t believe in it. I never have trouble” is this… if you don’t occasionally stumble over something or get stuck on something at some point, chances are the story is too safe. It’s too easy. There has to be something in it that keeps you writing, because if you’re anything like me, you’re going to be just as excited about discovering the story while writing it as you would be if you were the one reading it.
No, I don’t go into a story without a single clue as to what’s going to happen, but sometimes my characters take turns I didn’t expect. Sometimes situations arise and things happen that I didn’t originally consider, and it makes me take a step back and reconsider my position in the story. And that, kids, takes time.
I might not be the fastest writer in the world, but you know what? I’m a good writer. And I’ll take being good over being fast any day, even if it means someone might tell me that my reasons for not being fast don’t exist.