Some Say There is No Writer’s Block

by Chris McGinty of

You may have heard that the most
common question asked of professional writers is “Where do you get your ideas?”
I’ll let you know if that’s actually the case when I’m a professional writer. I
imagine that one of the next most common questions is “How do you break out of
writer’s block?” I’ve wondered this myself from time to time, but over the last
few years, I’ve realized that I don’t really have the specific problem of
nothing to write anymore. I have the problem of getting to work on the thing I
know I should be working on, but I have plenty to write. I think that perhaps
the two questions “Where do you get your ideas?” and “How do you break out of
writer’s block?” may actually be the same question for some.

I’d like to deal with the question
“How do you break out of writer’s block?” first, because it’s really the easy
part to answer with simplicity. The answer is: just start writing. Write
anything. Some say there’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s easier to
believe that if when you sit down, you just write until you’ve hit a word
count. Maybe if you write enough that isn’t related to the project you want to
work on, you’ll get tired of avoiding it and get to it.
I think that scheduling may be
more of the problem that causes writer’s block than anything. If you sit down
to write once a month when you have time, or if you wait until you feel
inspired, you may not form enough of a habit. If you have a scheduled time to
write each day, you might have writer’s block one day, but eventually you will
get tired of sitting there.
Terry Tyler talks about writer’s block in a blog post. The idea is that when a writer sits down they should have
a word count that they aim for, never getting up until that many words are
written. I do this myself, and it takes a little while to get to the larger
word counts, but you can start small. And this is my answer to the question “Where
do you get your ideas?” When you sit down and just write until you have written
a certain number of words, you’ll find that you have no choice but to come up
with ideas.
I think the real question that
people are asking is “Where do you come up with good ideas?” The only real
answer I have to that is that writing is a process of iteration. You keep
repeating the process until you get closer to the ideal. We’d all love to be
the kind of writer who gets it right on the first draft, but let’s just realize
that most of us aren’t that kind of writer and move on. Stephen King talked in “On
Writing” about the fact that he’d written for a while before he had his first
truly original idea. Writing is practice. That means that you practice writing
until you start to improve.
I also read a blog post by Jasmine Maria on the subject. What I found interesting here was the idea that
you can walk away for a moment. The way I think would almost never involve getting
up and getting away from the work temporarily. There may be wisdom there though
that I’ve overlooked, or at least not recognized that I do more often than I at
first believed. When Simon Le Bon was stuck on lyrics working on the “All You
Need Is Now” album, he decided to leave the studio and go to a museum. While he
was there, he saw a piece of artwork that made him think about “Other People’s
Lives.” The thought evolved from the empathic nature he imagined in the artwork
into a thought about tabloid press, and he had his idea.
My thought is this though. Getting
up and walking away from the work shouldn’t be a crutch. If it doesn’t lead to
you writing then it may not be worthwhile. Once or twice is fine even if you
don’t get through your writer’s block, but if you find that all you’re doing is
looking for distractions then get back to sitting in front of the blank page
for a while.
I recently wrote a list of 100
possible blog topics, and they ranged from good ideas to if I have nothing else
ideas. Try that. If you spend your entre writing time one day just listing 100
ideas for short stories, blog posts, poems, or whatever, you’ll answer for
yourself the where do you get ideas question. And when you start to explore
those ideas just to have something to write, you’ll answer for yourself the
breaking writer’s block question as well.
One final interesting article I
found about writer’s block.
To finish this out, I’d like to
address something I said in the first paragraph, which is that I often have
trouble getting to work on the project I should be working on. It’s important
to always make progress on the important project. They call it a work in
progress for a reason. When you get all of your ideas down, it opens up your
brain to new ideas. If you don’t know how to write the next part, write down
all your thoughts that you do have. Then write something else for a while. Then
come back. Just try it. You might be amazed.
Chris McGinty is a writer who
seriously has too many ideas. They’re not necessarily all good ideas, but he
will never be without something to write. Even if he were to never generate a
new idea, he has enough notebooks and files of random thoughts that he could
spend the rest of his life finishing those. He needs his own production

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