Is Writer’s Block a Myth?

{By Ellery Sadler}writer's block picture

I’ve been writing for nine years now and I’ve written a lot of different things.

But one of the big problems that face most writers is the dreaded writers block.

It is the debilitating disease that creeps up on you about 50 pages into the world’s next best novel, it gives you a headache just when you are coming (at last!) to the ending of your novel, it is what makes you get a little wild-eyed as you stare at that blank, white page: writers block … or is it?

Do you know someone who I believe never suffered from ‘writers block’?

Charles Dickens. That man wrote soooo much. And do you know why? He often wrote serially, and his family depended on the paychecks to pay bills and buy food. He had to write. And guess what? He did a pretty good job. (This is not to say that if you force yourself to write you will become the next Dickens. Haha, if only :))

I can say from personal experience that there are times I literally feel like I cannot write another word. There is just nothing left to say. And so I’ll normally take a break for a few days. I know what it feels like.

But I also think writers block comes, at least partially, from the laziness of our culture. Can’t think of what happens next? Just write! Of course there are times when you have to drop a story because it truly isn’t worth writing, or you just want to take a little break to think out your next chapter, but lots of times I don’t think we gives stories a fair shot because we quite honestly are just bored. We have really short attention spans, and by page 36 we are just plain sick of writing about one story.

Instead of writers block, I’m pretty sure it should be called Boredom Block.

So here are some things to do if you are bored with your story (and it is a good story that is still worth writing).

1. Take a break from writing all together – for at least a few days. Do something new that you’ve never tried before. Knit a scarf, ride a horse, go for walk in the rain – you know, something fun.

2. Write a short story – boy that spices life up! Have you tried that? It is so hard! And try setting it in a different time period/planet with a main character different from the one in your Work in Progress (so if your main character is a young girl, make your short story about an old man.)

3. Twist it – add something new to your story. That sweet old man who lives at the edge of town? Oh, he’s really a bank robber. That boy your main character has a crush on? He actually has been spreading rumors about her behind her back. That blind woman at the grocery store who sells peaches? She was Miss America when she was young.

4. The Worst Possible Thing – Raise the stakes. What is the worst possible thing that could happen right now? Make it happen. What is the worst thing he could say? Have him say it. Who is the last person on earth she wants to see? Have her see him.

5. Plow Ahead – this is a little more boring, but what if you just forced yourself to write 5 pages? Where would your story be then? (Don’t forget, you can always come back later and polish up the rough spots.) So give it a shot, just forge ahead and keep writing.

So, I believe ‘Writers block’ is just a test to see how dedicated you are to your craft. It is a dare from human nature to see if you can make it past your own boredom and frustrations.

Myth or reality? Truth or dare?

It depends on your reaction. Truth if you let it stop you. Dare if you defeat it.