Writer’s block is your friend, no really. Here are 3 ways to use it to your advantage
By Emily Rae Robles
Today, my writing friends, I want to introduce you to someone you already know very well, someone you may falsely consider your enemy. I am here to mediate a discussion between you and this acquaintance, hoping to resolve some of the long-lasting misunderstandings between the two of you. Are you ready? Writer, meet Writer’s Block.
No, no, don’t groan like that—Be polite, say “hello.”
Let’s cut to the basics of your hatred. Why have you and your forefathers despised my dear friend Writer’s Block since the first caveman put paintbrush to rock? I’ll tell you why: Pride.
Yes, that’s right, you writers (all right, all right, myself included) are so full of yourselves that the tiniest force of interruption pushes you over the cliffs of your own ambition. And, of course, since ambition is always so high, the fall hurts even more. But enough with the metaphors, let me tell you why Writer’s Block is actually your friend ant not your enemy.
What is Writer’s Block? From my own personal experience, I would describe it as that state in which words dam up against the pen until they explode within the writer’s mind, causing a scene of such war-torn damage that the writer is immobilized by sheer exhaustion.
Pleasant, yes? But wait, here’s the rub: Writer’s Block can actually make you more creative.
“You mock my pain!” I can hear you cry. No, I don’t. Really, I don’t. Let’s turn your pain into strength. When you “suffer” from Writer’s Block, you find it difficult to come up with ideas, correct? Forming cohesive sentences is a challenge, correct? The literary worlds in your imagination seem to have come to an abrupt end, correct? Well, let’s try to reverse these issues.
Problem #1: NO IDEAS
What is your thought process when you first butt heads with Writer’s Block? Mine usually goes something like this:
Me: ..and thus, the infinite amount of…of…what was I talking about? I can’t remember what I was talking about.
Writer’s Block: Potatoes.
Me: Potatoes. No, no, no, I wasn’t talking about potatoes. The infinite amount of..of..
Writer’s Block: Potatoes. Aztecs. Marshmallows. Did you brush your teeth today? Better check your Facebook. Nothingness.
Me: Nothingness, nothingness, oh gosh I can’t think of anything! Where was I? What happened to all my brilliant ideas?
Does this scenario sound familiar? Maybe? Maybe not. Well, if it does, I’d like to point out something: Writer’s Block does not, in fact, remove all thoughts from your brain. Contrary to popular belief, it supplies you with far too many thoughts, usually far off topic. So this is what I propose: Go with it. Write about potatoes. Write about Aztecs who brush their teeth with marshmallows. Go all stream of consciousness on it. Can’t you see that poor little Writer’s Block is actually trying to help? Our minds are just so finite that they can’t handle it. But now that you’ve caught on, use the random ramblings of Writer’s Block to inspire new types of creativity.
Problem #2: NOT CARING
“That’s all well and good,” you might say, “but when I encounter Writer’s Block, I generally don’t have the energy to write down all of that nonsense. I want to browse the internet or mindlessly watch a few episodes of The Office. Productivity? Not happening.”
I feel ya, my friends, I feel ya. I am possibly the most easily distracted person on the face of the planet. In fact, the only reason I’ve been so prolific on this blog recently is because I have plenty of better things to be doing. It’s all about priorities. Do you see where I’m going with this? Writer’s Block is often relative to how badly you need to do something.
If you have a paper or article or story that you need to finish next week, you probably won’t get much done on it until the night before (if you’re me, anyway.) However, if you have a major project or work assignment due, writing that article will suddenly become much easier because it has become part of the procrastination process.
So. You need to learn to prioritize. Put the things that are most important on the bottom of your list so that you will turn to them when you don’t want to do the things higher up on your list. It works for me. Maybe not for you. But give it a shot.
Problem #3: REPETITION
One of the most common things Writer’s Block likes to “torture” us with is granting us ideas and then immediately following up with the realization that we have already used that idea in a previous piece. However, this too can be used to our advantage. Again, go with it. Write out all the repetitive ideas, no matter how bland or unnecessary, until you finally get back on track or discover some gems. It will happen. I promise. It’s how I wrote this post. But then again, maybe that’s not something to go by.
Hopefully I have enlightened you all as to the benefits of Writer’s Block. Don’t let your pride get in the way of your writing; embrace any and all conflicts that arise as part of the writing process! After all, it is a process. Good luck, and may your new friendship be ever blessed!
Emily Rae Robles is something of a literary prodigy, and we’re so glad to have found her! Growing up her dream was to become a professional reader, not the more commonplace ballerina or veterinarian. Her parents often punished her by taking away her reading privileges back then. She credits CS Lewis and Chaim Potok for changing her view on literature and life. She can be reached via email or Twitter. You can also learn more about her by visiting her blog, The Paradoxymoron: www.emilyraerobles.wordpress.com