A Post about Writer’s Block

December 15th, 2018Posted by Nancy

I saw yet another writer saying “there’s no such thing as writer’s block” on Twitter today.  I almost replied … but I mostly just lurk on social media and so I thought I’d write this post instead.

I’m not sure how all these other writers define writer’s block.  Mostly they seem to assume that it’s really just bad habits, lack of discipline, laziness, or – in the most charitable cases – emotional or mental illness issues.

So what would you call something that afflicted the writer of three novels who suddenly found herself unable to write?  Who dutifully put her butt in the seat in front of her computer and ground out words even though each one felt as if it were broken glass leaving scars?  Who ending up weeping on the couch as many times as not after said sessions and then did it again and again and again?  Who felt as if her imagination had become a desert and her creativity a long tunnel down which each idea, each word had to be painstakingly dragged only to end up lying lifeless and hideous on the page?  Who could not make a decision and who no longer had faith that she knew what lay over the horizon of her story?  Who could not simply switch to another story because she had no other stories?

She did all the things one is supposed to do in such cases. She went to therapy.  She went to writing and creativity experts. She tried and tried and tried until one day someone she loved told her she could stop, because she was just damaging herself and he could not bear to see her so unhappy.

So she stopped.

After a few years, she would  start again and eventually finish that novel but she never regained the pleasure in writing she had once had.  It was now duty, though to what she couldn’t tell.  It wasn’t her living or even really her avocation anymore. She had gotten over defining herself as a writer years before.  She’s still writing, slowly, painfully, and she still doesn’t know why.   Her imagination is still an arid place, incapable of supporting more than one thing at a time.  The words still come from far away, dragged down the tunnel.  She still has trouble making decisions.  But she still forces herself to do it, though she knows the number of people who care if she does is very small.

What would you call that, if not writer’s block?

Maybe it’s just me who wants to call it that, because what is blocked can be unblocked and what is constricted can be set free.

But it’s not laziness or lack of discipline or bad habits.  It might be an emotional/mental issue but if so, no therapy could fix it.  And there are days I’m just not in the mood to have the most painful experience of my life treated with condescension.

Maybe I should have said something on Twitter after all.



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