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Writer's block - how not to overcome it

You can find many posts on how to overcome writer’s block.  Some books devote a whole chapter to this issue.  Many relate it to the internal censor that needs to be shut up – even if only until you are finished with the first draft.

Now if you consider writer’s block as someone to beat up, and you succeed, it will make him stronger.  When you learn a trick to accomplish it, he will learn it, because he is smart.  He must be strong and smart to be able to stop a whole creative process.  Then you learn a new trick that might work until he learns it, too.  It’s like an armament competition between two countries.

Let’s just treat him like a… no, not a friend, that would be too difficult first.  Just treat him like a stranger, call him WB, we don’t know his full name yet – he’s a stranger after all.  You won’t lose anything with assumption, if he turns out to have an evil plot for you, you can still beat him up as like.  But for the moment, you cannot be sure if his intentions are good or bad.  All you know is he said, “stop what you are doing”.

Looking at the scene from a bird’s eye view, it could mean anything.  You might be standing a few steps away from abyss, then he has pretty good intentions to save you from falling.  Or you are driving to the last parking place around which he wants for himself, then he doesn’t care about you, he just wants to park his car.  Or he stops you in the middle of a busy road while crossing to get hit by a car.  How do you decide?

Have a closer look at what you were doing.  Your prompt answer could be, you were just writing when he jumped in.  But you were probably not.  When you are head into the creative process, all the engines are on, to stop it would be like stopping a running train.  Poor WB couldn’t do that (unless you have already given him a proper training with “overcoming tricks”).  He waits until the train slows down or even until it comes to a halt.  Then he can jump in and prevent the train speed up again.  What most people call a writer’s block is when the train is actually standing at a station and they cannot make it run again.

An advice you can hear a lot in such cases, “focus on quantity, quality will be given”.  And this is where the internal censor comes into play.  It’s your inner voice, saying, stop writing this trash.  And she has her reasons, she wants to enjoy the act of writing, she wants to enjoy that something valuable is being produced.  It wouldn’t be nice to make her shut up and tolerate ten times more rubbish until you hopefully get to quality.

Do you want to lift a weight?  Fine.  Do you fail?  Fine.  Why not fail ten more times with the same weight?  Because it’s frustrating, even if you can do it after many tries.  Remove some weights, lower your aspirations.  Writer’s block?  How about writing a page of a’s?

Boring?  I bet you.  Then put back some more weight.  Or just role the whole weight on the ground.  Find a way that suits your muscles.  Find what you can write really great.  And if it’s only a page of a’s, fine.  There aren’t many really good a-writers anyway.

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