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7 Reasons That Writer’s Block is Frustrating

Posted on November 23, 2010 in Posts | 0 comments

Whether you’re a blogger, a journalist, a novelist, a playwright or a poet, writer’s block can be both debilitating and frustrating.  Here are seven reasons why.

a screen shot of Microsoft Word

Yes, It's Microsoft Word 1897!

1.  Because You Call Yourself A Writer.  I sometimes call myself a writer.  Mostly because that’s what I do.  I write.  Every day.  I didn’t start doing it regularly until my thirties, but I’ve studied literature my whole life, from pre-school to university.  And I feel comfortable when I refer to myself as a writer; because I do it all the time and, I like to imagine, quite well.  I don’t make my living from writing: I’ve never even been paid for writing; in fact – owing to the vagaries of the publishing system – I’ve been offered more money not to write than I have to write.  Yes, actual soft cash (made of paper, so better than hard cash), and I turned it down.  Because I’m an idiot.  And I would have had to have called myself a not-writer.  A professional not-writer.  And that’s not who I am.  But you can only call yourself a writer if you actually write something.

2.  Because It’s Hard To Explain.  It’s hard to explain not being able to write to non-writers, because – to them – it’s a natural state.  How would you explain the absence of writing to someone that isn’t a practitioner of the art?  I’ll have a stab at it:  Imagine that you’re reading a blank page.  But that page is important.  In fact, the words on that page are fundamental to your very life, soul, being, self-image and existence.  But you can’t see them.  And you need them.  They’re vital.  Oh, and you’re naked.  Well that’s pretty much what it’s like.  But much worse.  Because your foot hurts and it’s cold where you are.

3.  Because You Can Think Of Things To Write, They’re Just Not Appropriate.  I could, right at this moment, fashion a discourse highlighting the influence of John Mayall on the British blues movement or analyse Romania’s under-reported role in the holocaust.    But I’m not writing a piece on the development of British music, or on World War II, I’m writing for a humour site.  Which is a shame as there’s very little else in my head except for: “There’s nothing in your head you silly man”, “My foot hurts” and “Oooh, I quite fancy a sandwich”; yet  eating the sandwich won’t help you because…well…it’s eating a sandwich, which is different to writing (it’s more Marmitey and less like Tolstoy) and your audience probably won’t appreciate a piece entitled 7 Reasons I Stopped Staring Blankly at a Screen and had a Sandwich Instead as it would be at least six reasons light and it would probably make them hungry.  Well, half of them, the other half probably don’t like Marmite.

4.  Because You Have A Deadline.  Yes, there’s always a deadline that you need to hit.  And, when I was staring at my blank screen it was imminent.  After all, I have other things to do in addition to writing.  I’m a man, I need simple things; that sandwich, sleep, words to magically appear on my screen (or in my head, I’m not lazy, I’ll happily type them out), but mostly sleep.  Because I’ve been busy all day and I’m tired.  But I need to write these words, so with bloodshot eyes I continue to stare at the screen, because inspiration will strike if I stare at it for long enough, surely?

5.  Because Of Modern Technology. And I’m staring at the blank screen on a computer.  That’s right, a computer.  A machine connected to the world that contains many, many distractions.  So when you find yourself failing to write words on a screen, you’ll soon find yourself watching people falling off bicycles on Youtube.  And shortly, you’ll find yourself on Twitter.  Not tweeting about WWII or John Mayall, but about other topical and funny stuff.  And you’re actually being funny on Twitter.  In the written word!  But not in any way that inspires your next day’s piece, and that doesn’t help matters; in fact, it’s bloody frustrating, as the irony of the situation won’t escape you.  You will briefly toy with the idea of tweeting tomorrow’s piece, and disregard it.  Eventually.  But not before you’ve wasted much precious writing time considering it, while sucking on a pencil:  A pencil without any lead in it.

6.  Because Of Self-Doubt.  Why do I write?  If you ever found yourself asking that, you would never, ever do it.  Because writing defies all logical sense.  Why, in the name of all that is holy, in the name of all that is unholy, or in the name of all that isn’t there (I think I’ve covered everyone) would anyone choose to spend their time spewing-forth words from their brains to their fingers to their screens.  “I could be doing other things at the moment,” you’ll find yourself thinking.  “I could be doing other things that normal people do like watching other people sitting in a “jungle” or watching other people dancing badly or watching other people that can’t sing, sing or”…and suddenly writing makes sense again.

7.  Because You’ll Get There In The End.  And eventually, you’ll think of something to write about.  Because that’s what you do, you’re a writer.  Even if you do end up writing about not-writing, even if you end up raw-eyed and sweaty, even if you end up writing with the rapier-like-insight and élan of an addled baboon, there’ll be something.  Because however much you think you have nothing to say, however hard you think it is, there will always be something.  And that’s when you know that you should write.  And that you should have a shower.

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