Lot’s of folks complaining of writer’s block lately.
Allow me to tell you two stories.
“Dave Cant and Joe Donwanna are avid backpackers and survivalists. In an effort to prepare for their submission to the cable show Naked and Afraid, they set off into the Alaskan wilderness with very minimal gear. After being dropped off at their camp site by helicopter, they immediately got to work.
Dave started building a shelter from fallen trees, while Joe set off in search of food and fresh water. Both men were eager and full of energy. By nightfall the wind kicked up and the temperature dropped below freezing.
The shelter was not complete, there was no fire, no food and no fresh water.
Dave and Joe sat next to each other shivering under the stars.
JOE: Damn. I dunno what happened. I just don’t feel like looking for food and water any more.
DAVE: I know right, me too. I mean it would be great if the shelter was complete to get this wind off of us… and I would do just about anything for a fire right now (except actually try and make one, of course)… but really, what’s the point of it all?
JOE: Screw it. If we don’t freeze to death tonight, maybe we’ll feel like getting some stuff done tomorrow.”
If you can’t relate to survival guys who lost their motivation, how bout this one.
“Ten year veteran heart surgeon Laura Doitlatur stood over a fifty-five year old father of three, Italian born, Angree Clientee. The man suffered from major heart complications and Dr. Doitlatur was ready to do what she had done a hundred times before, and give the loving, hard-working father a new chance at life.
Laura started the operation flawlessly. Twenty minutes in, with Angree’s chest open, multiple tubes and a dozen instruments inside him, she suddenly paused, placed her hands on her hips and sighed.
NURSE: What’s wrong Dr.?
LAURA: This is really complicated. (her eyes go wide) I mean really complicated.
NURSE: Dr. you’ve done this procedure many times before… and you’re kind of in the middle… you need to finish right away. This patient’s life is depending on you.
LAURA: I know but there’s a lot of different ways I could do this. Through the big squishy part on top, the little bugger on the bottom, hmmm I could also try a new technique. Gosh, I really don’t know what to do…
NURSE: I’m sure whatever you decide will be the best course of action. Please continue doctor.
Dr. Doitlatur removed her gloves and washed her hand in the small stainless steel basin, leaving all the nurses with gaping mouths and white eyes.
LAURA: Nahh… that’s it, I need to figure this out in my head. I’m going out for a drive. Keep him sedated till I get back.
Who else but writers have the ability to stop doing what they need to do in the middle of it?
“Writer’s block” is really just a fancy way of saying “I don’t feel like writing.”
So what are you, 6 years old playing with your legos?
Get over it. AND GET TO WRITING.
I already know what you’re thinking. (I did mention on the site I’m psychic right?)
Damn, that’s harsh.
And ridiculously generalized advice.
Well, why are you writing? What’s your end goal?
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say your end goal is to get paid well enough to write what you want to write and live comfortably. Maybe get a little fame and recognition in the process.
Well you don’t get there if you don’t get your writing DONE.
And assuming you want to get their sooner, rather than later, Get over it. And GET TO WRITING.
And here’s another thing. Something your future self told me. (I did mention on the site that I have a time traveling DeLorean right?)
When you get to where you’re going professionally, you’re gonna suddenly realize you don’t have time to write all the things you want to write. Especially, when you’re flooded with opportunities, many of which you simply can’t turn down. You’re gonna look back and see all that time wasted procrastinating as pure temporal gold. You’re gonna wish you had my DeLorean to go back and reposess all that lost time.
So the next time you’re not writing and telling folks (or yourself) you’re “blocked”, using the term like some occupational hazard that is relieved only after certain requirements are met—most of which are beyond your control—realize you’re breaking two of the fundamental qualities of being a true writer/professional, “honesty and objectivity.”
Instead of saying “writer’s block” just be honest and say you “don’t feel like writing.”
Truthfully, professional writer’s (like any other profession) don’t have time to be “blocked.” If a publisher needs a script by a deadline, telling them you “didn’t feel like writing” this week and don’t have the script, is a surefire way to get your contract terminated and bridges burned.
In my experience, there are only three scenarios where I don’t feel like writing.
The first, is when something personal is going on in my life. As a professional mercenary writer, most of the time, that has to do with money (I keep it real with you guys), but it could be anything, relationship problems, family problems, health problems whatever.
The solution there is hiding in plain sight.
Roll up your sleeves, lock the door and get it done.
The only personal excuse in my book for not getting your writing done, is death. Getting dead gets you a pass, otherwise get to work!
The second, is when I’m lost and unsure in the story. 99.9% of the time, I’ve found the solution here to be proper time developing the story and building the outline. I don’t think I’ve ever worked from a solid, comprehensive outline and sat in my chair unsure or unable to write.
Lastly, when I’m bored with the story. This is a big red flag in unto itself. If I’m bored writing the story, it’s going to be DOA. Which means something is wrong with the story structure and I have to stop, go back and fix it, or it’s just a dead concept and it’s time to abandon ship.
So the next time you’re working on your WIP and feeling “blocked”, remember this article.
If you find this article too abrasive, try my other article, Time Management and More, where I give a more forgiving assessment of writer’s block. ▪
About the Author —
Nick Macari is a full-time freelance story consultant, developmental editor and writer, working primarily in the independent gaming and comic markets. His first published comic appeared on shelves via Diamond in the late 90’s. Today you can find his comic work on comixology, amazon and in select stores around the U.S. Visit NickMacari.com for social media contacts and news on his latest releases.