Over on Murderati, J.T. Ellison finished up a post with this statement today: “I’m reminded again that writer’s block is your story telling you you’re going in the wrong direction.”
I’ve read all sorts of posts, articles, and book chapters over time about writer’s block. It’s origins. Solutions to overcome it. People postulating that it doesn’t exist. But I’m not sure any of them have resonated with me quite so much or been put quite so succinctly. I may have to print it out and stick it on the wall in my office as a reminder.
In my world writer’s block absolutely exists. I try–when I’m on my writing game and sticking to the program, as it were–to sit down an write a certain number of words a day. For the most part I don’t count overages from the day before toward making up the difference in the next day’s word count. The point is to get words down, to keep “in shape” as a writer. Some days I’m done by 5–jotting down and piecemealing my scene(s) over the course of my regular job work day. Other days, it’s a fight to get finished by bedtime. And sometimes the whole thing just shuts down–as if my brain is a water wheel and the river of creativity just dries up completely. Most especially at those times, I feel that Ellison’s point is a great one. Because what generally happens to me then is that I–after some period of irritation, frustration, and possibly walking way–come back and reread whatever I have of the chapter or scene or story, and I usually back track to the last thing I really think worked and axe everything else (well, cut it out and stick it in a separate file “just in case”)–which has been up to 30k in one swoop before. Nothing like bringing the guillotine down on your work, is there? But it’s almost like cutting out diseased material! Once I back up like that, get rid of whatever stumped me, I can usually get back on track and I’m no longer blocked!
So maybe if I post this advice in some place I can see it, I’ll be reminded to “listen” to the block sooner!
Writer’s block as a writer’s tool, huh? That actually sounds about right. Thanks for the reminder that sometimes pushing through isn’t the best thing we can do for our story!