I’ve read quite a bit of the writer’s block advice offered by successful writers. “What better source could there be for this information?” you might ask. After all, they’ve achieved something notable in the field, and if they have suffered from blocks, surely they have transcended those in their climb to fame. They must have something useful to offer those of us who stare in despair at an uncaring blank screen for hours. And they do, but; the advice of these sage and seasoned authors would be even more useful if they would only, like, agree.
A favorite bit of advice is “Just do it. Stop whining and write. If you can’t do that, you aren’t a writer.” This approach has a clean, refreshing, tough-love ring of authority to it, and it certainly is undeniable that writers have to write to be writers, but this stance is missing the element of compassion, and contains a blindness to the reality that many writers, even successful ones, can’t always make themselves write at will.
Others state that an inviolable routine of writing is necessary. Can’t write? Make a schedule and stick to that and the words will be flowing in no time. Yes – scheduling writing can be a huge help, but what if your problem is that you can’t effectively make a schedule or stick to one? Are you then a hopeless case? Is it helpful to have someone tell you to do something you continually fail at doing? And then, other writers recommend writing when you get an inspiration, and they eschew the confining structure of a schedule.
Some writers recommend taking a break when a stuck point is encountered, so you can percolate and allow time for the unconscious answer to rise to the surface. Others say you must stay in the chair and keep the fingers moving, even if you have no idea where you are going. Do anything but stop.
Maybe all of these differing bits of advice are correct – for a particular person on a particular day with a particular project. Writing block solutions are not a one-size-fits-all situation. Everyone’s different, and even golden words of advice from a Nobel Laureate in Literature might prove useless to any given procrastinator. Heck – even the most perfect advice is often useless because we just don’t do it.
Now there’s an interesting problem.
I’d like to read more from truly blocked writers on this subject, but they get interviewed less frequently and don’t tend to publish that much.