Writer’s Block


I’m not a fan of Philip Pullman, but for once he is right.

When I have to write an article or make an advert, find a new slogan or just a 3-word-claim for a new product, my boss would just laugh me down if I didn’t deliver in time and explained myself with “writer’s block”. Once.

A second time would mean trouble.

But if the standards I set myself are not as high as the demands of others, if I talk myself into believing that I can’t write because of a gazillion reasons, I should at least be honest.

It’s not writer’s block. It’s laziness and disinterest, perhaps temporary, perhaps a project simply died. Everybody has the right to be lazy and disinterested from time to time, it’s hard enough to fight out of this state of mind as it is, and fancy excuses only make it harder. Especially when fellow writers pat my back and declare solemnly that they “know how I feel”.

No, you don’t. You’re just as lazy as I am, but your excuses are probably not the same.

Guys’n’Gals – if I start to ramble about something so dubious like writer’s block, I need a boot up my ass, not some pathetic sympathy for something that is 90% simple work. Only the last 10% are this ominous thing called inspiration, and it’s more dependent on the weather, my workload, level of sleep deprivation and alcohol misuse than anything else.


6 thoughts on “Writer’s Block

  1. I have to agree, for the most part. I think writer’s block is a catch-all term for the times when maybe you just don’t have it. I won’t go so far to say that everybody who claims writer’s block is lazy and disinterested, but whatever is going on can’t always be defined with that generic term.

    I personally have never claimed to have writer’s block that I can remember. About the closest are, “I’m having trouble getting the words out,” or, “Oh, I’m just not writing anything right now.” I try to write every day, whether I can crank our whole chapters or eke out just a few words (today is one of those eking days). I’m doing a lot of beta reading right now, so if I find a day when the words just aren’t coming, I’m glad that at least I can help people with their writing.

    • Yeah, catch-all term hits it. I think what I like least about it is that it makes the phenomenon look as if it was something otherworldly, something that is forced onto the writer by who-knows-what. Something that isn’t controllable and much less manageable, and it’s only the counterpart to the misconception that writers only write because something equally otherworldly – inspiration, a muse, whatever – pours something into them they just have to let out again.

      I too try to write every day, in fact usually I have to because I make a living from it, but my personal writing has of course a completely different meaning for my wellbeing. And if the words won’t come, I rework stuff or start something new or do some beta reading. Seems our strategies are quite similar 🙂

  2. I tend to agree; when I claim writer’s block it tends to about my hobby writing (which is what I turn to when I’m feeling lazy and disinterested in things like work, life. etc.) so chances are I am flailing on the couch just being dramatic when I can’t make the words obey. The frustration is real, but it’s also kind of dumb. And yeah, 99% of whatever is holding me up can be boiled down to disinterest.

    All the writing I’ve ever done seriously (professional, academic, etc.) just got done because it had to. And when it didn’t, if I expected any sort of help, I had to have a specific concern or question, which by the time I figured out the question I was asking, I worked through whatever was holding me up. I tried to teach my students that. I don’t think much of it sunk in though.

    • I’d like to see you flailing on the couch being dramatic ^^

      I think everybody knows the frustration, especially when you’re serious about something, and I don’t think it’s dumb. At least not dumber than the frustration about any other failure one can experience in any job, hobby or activity.

      I’m a bit frustrated at the moment because I just had this discussion (again!) with a wonderful friend of mine who writes the most beautiful poems. It’s something I absolutely adore because I can’t do it, there’s absolutely no poetry in my soul, but she’s is good and what she writes is amazing. The thing is, she only writes when she’s in a certain mood, which is not very often, and then it just pours out of her. That would be fine if she wasn’t so serious about it, if she didn’t talk all the time how she’ll get herself published and how that’s what she wants to do and bla bla bla. But on the other hand, she doesn’t take the time and effort to work for it. She says it’s too hard and too frustrating and she can’t stand it and she needs her free time to relax. And I don’t know what to tell her, because she frustrates me too. Meh.

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