When it comes to writer’s block, we authors, poets, and the like, tend to avoid the subject like a fatal disease. As if when we talk about it, it will catch us. The mere thought of locking up with a pencil in hand, blank computer screen, or empty mind, frightens writers to no end. But perhaps we’re making this out to be a bigger monster than it really is. True, there may be no single way to beat writer’s block forever, but perhaps we can take solace in knowing that even the most famous of authors have been through it as well (and may have a tip or two).
1. “If your wife locks you out of the house, you don’t have a problem with your door. The word block suggests you’re constipated or stuck, when the truth is that you’re empty.” –Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
2. “I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.” -Barbara Kingslover
3. “If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.” -Norman Mailer, The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing
4. “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.” –Ernest Hemingway
5. “When all else fails, give up and go to the library.” –Stephen King
6. “I just give myself permission to suck. I delete about 90 percent of my first drafts … so it doesn’t really matter much if on a particular day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers forever, because there’s a 90 percent chance I’m just gonna delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating. I also like to remind myself of something my dad said in [response] to writers’ block: ‘Coal miners don’t get coal miners’ block.’” –John Green
7. “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.” -Charles Bukowski
Though this list is short, it in no way encompasses the plague that eventually catches up to us all. But at least it’s proof. Proof that they lived. And proof that you will too.
Meet the blogger:
LIV KRESSLER is a student in her final year at Hamline University, studying creative writing and digital media arts. She enjoys reading all genres, but focuses her writing on creative non-fiction and poetry. Post-graduation, she hopes to remain in the cities and utilize both of her degrees. She enjoys being active, and is a member of Hamline’s track and field team, as well as a former member of the gymnastics team. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities, cleaning, crafts, making coffee, and writing. When she’s not at school, she loves heading home to Chanhassen, MN to spend time her with parents and brother.