Writers’ block. I’ve had it. It is a debilitating, depressing, sometimes infuriating beast of a thing that sits, impassive, in the middle of my head. A great beast of granite and shadow, that states with awful finality ‘You shall not pass’. So far however, I always have, eventually. But the days, the weeks – and for a while, and a horrible eternity it seemed, it lasted several months – while it lasts, are… well. Words fail me.
But as I say, it has always lifted, left, evaporated into dust, and left me free and clear to write as I wish. And the sense of relief, of freedom… when writing becomes once again the Best Thing Ever, that’s just fab.
What causes it? Every writer is different. For me, I know, it is often an extension of other underlying stuff going round in my head, both above and below the surface. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it simply is the inability to get to the words, any words, of any meaning, or order. Those lost hours sat staring, paralysed, at the screen, or pen in hand, and the notebook open, waiting, waiting. Those are the times when I must force myself away from what I want to do. Those are the times when the other things that I have to do, get done much sooner than they would otherwise. Like stripping out the kitchen cupboards, reorganising the linen cupboard, even re-painting the bannisters. (Actually I’m saving that last one up for writers’ block in warmer weather…) Or something simple, like going for a walk, a getting-a-bit-lost sort of walk. These things aren’t cures – they aren’t magic – they are simply displacement activities until the thing I want to do becomes easier, and the monster in my head buggers off and leaves me alone.
Some writers are lucky; they claim never to have suffered. And I’m happy for them, really I am. It’s the ones who assert that writers’ block does not exist, that it is a mere myth, that I have a problem with. It’s the ones who promulgate the idea that all you need is an outline and away you go, who make me incandescent. To assert your reality as the only viable reality over that of others is deeply unhelpful, divisive, demoralising, and, frankly, ignorant. And to broadcast such an unreasonable notion across the internet, where everyone can see it… oh dear. How unutterably crass.