#bebotheredtowrite or Redefining Writer’s Block

Back to Index

22nd February 2016

About a week ago, I thought I was struggling with the worst kind of writer’s block.

But, I wasn’t sure if that was completely true. So, I did what every good writer should do – I researched it.

First stop to find out what exactly is writer’s block? The definition (looking at various extremely credible websites) is, as far as I can figure, as follows:

Writer’s block: “the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.”

Was this the case with me? Hmm, I don’t think so.

I could certainly think what to write, I have all kinds of ideas rushing ‘round my head at all times of the day. The damn things flutter around me all day long. And through the night. I have at least three stories on the go in my mind, I just haven’t quite honed the exact structure and ultimately what was going to happen to lead the characters to the twist in the story. But, realistically the stories were pretty much ready to go.

So, maybe it’s the ‘how to proceed with writing’ part that got to me. Hmm. Again, I’m not sure. I know how to proceed. I sit down, put on the loudest, heaviest guitar music I can find and then begin typing. I know the procedure. So, this wasn’t the problem either.

The problem was actually the bit before. You know the actual ‘beginning the procedure’ bit.

So, from the definition I had researched neither clauses fit.

I had the stories. Tick.

I knew how to proceed. Tick.

I had self-diagnosed. I most certainly did not have a case of writer’s block or the definition was wrong. Which I think is actually the case.

I have therefore redefined the definition:

Writer’s block: “the condition of being unable to be bothered to actually go and write.”

And actually, if you think about it carefully, this is the definition. I am not the first to say that we should throw away our televisions. But I definitely should. For half a year, I have spent night after night after night watching mindless films and mindless TV drama, mentally criticising the characters and the plot. The last eight weeks of watching television and challenging myself as to whether I could write the scene I had just watched. Could I remember how to do it? How would I put what I’ve seen into words? Could I write in the third person (my last novel was in first)? In fact, could I even write anymore?

And this has been my conundrum for six whole months. Six months wasted, not writing a word. Instead, watching other people on a TV screen, acting somebody else’s work and trying, in my mind to recreate it. Crazy.

I finally sat down in front of the computer last Monday. I decided which of the three stories I would work on. I knew how the first chapter should start. And I started.

And all the issues of writer’s block disappeared. A week in, just over twelve thousand words.

Now, you may think that this little description is too simplistic. What if I sit there and I can’t think what to write? What if the cursor just repeatedly winks at me? Well it’s simple. Write anything. Anything. It doesn’t need to be the story you are working on. It’s a warm up. It’s practice. A runner doesn’t warm his muscles at his top speed before a race. He prepares for it. If you can’t start, sit down and write about what you’ve just been doing. Putting the kettle on. Changing your socks. Putting a load of washing in. Write anything and allow your mind to drift. You will soon be in your story.

And don’t turn on the television.

If you agree, let’s redefine the definition #bebotheredtowrite