Writer’s Block: Reality or Myth

Several times I’ve had discussions with fellow writers, and been a part of Message Board exchanges, about the phenomenon of writer’s block. Usually the conversation begins with the statement that the person suffers from the condition. That in itself is telling because it reflects the embodiment of the pressure we place on ourselves to accomplish something … anything. Often the cost is that our product suffers from being forced out of our minds and onto our characters. Much like the adolescent that goes out for the dance team only to realize they suffer from having two left feet. Of course they don’t have malformed feet, but it’s a convenient way to explain why they couldn’t make the dance team. Don’t allow an excuse to prevent you from progressing toward your goal. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but you can teach yourself to be a better writer (or dancer).

People scoff at me (if not openly, it’s evident by the look on their face) when I tell them I’ve never encountered writer’s block. Once the contortions in their face ease and they again become receptive to a conversation I explain that I never sit down to write anything unless I have something to write. Each of us can get to that point by constantly thinking about the characters we’ve created and place them in situations to see how they will react. If it works make a note, and when you have enough notes and time to complete a chapter, sit down and make the story a part of your manuscript. Remember, progressing your manuscript doesn’t have to mean putting pen to paper. In order to know your characters emotionally you must feel them exist inside you; in your mind and soul. If you successfully create interesting characters they’ll take you on the journey that is supposed to happen.

In order to accomplish this we must think outside our comfort zone. Each of us has been brought up affected by circumstances unique to our environment. There are a lot of actions we would never consider taking, and there are those we’d never give a second thought before charging forward. As you can see that leaves us moving through life on autopilot. If you want to truly be a writer you must take the time to understand what motivates people to do the things they do; whether it’s mass murder or building a Fortune 500 company. You must be willing to live the lives you wish to create. That’s the only way we can come to understand what motivates people into carrying out actions we would never consider, but that our characters would. That is our job as writers; to investigate and understand all the possible motivations in the world and describe them such that our readers can identify with the story. Hopefully, by being open to all experiences it will allow us to share what we learn via compelling stories, without the specter of the constraints, real or imagined, hindering our progress.

Happy writing!

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