Writer's Block or Writer's Rebellion

Yesterday, in a fit of writer’s rebellion, I refused to write. Instead, I turned to a nearly foot-high pile of long neglected, fluff magazines. I started by reading the cover headlines:

“99 Ways to Look Super,” “Be Prettier,” “Get Gorgeous,” “Lose Weight Without Dieting,” “A Food Lover’s Guide to Weight Loss,” “Sweat Free Ways to Lose Weight,” “How to Turn Him On,”  “Sexy Sex,” “Sexy Exercise,” “Get in a Better Mood,” “Get Happy,” “Get Ecstatic,” and “Diseases You’re Likely to Get.”

These came from the covers of four magazines geared toward women. Do you notice any pattern? That’s right. I need to subscribe to a wider variety of periodicals. And if I write an article about looking good, losing weight, better sex, altering attitudes, up and coming diseases, or any reasonable combination of the foregoing, it’ll likely get published.

Then I picked up a few magazines geared toward writers. Each covered the topic of  “Writer’s Block.”

I don’t believe in Writer’s Block. Perhaps it’s part of a conspiracy to keep novice or jittery writers off the bookshelves.

Before I graduated law school, I was told by one and all: “There are too many lawyers already.” “You’ll never get a job in the entertainment business.” And, “You must work for a law firm first.”

I was fortunate in my legal career. Thanks to an exceptional, saintly attorney (not an oxymoron in this case) who took me under her wing, I went straight to a studio job. Why am I telling you this? So that you don’t believe everything you hear or read. Just because a magazine or other seemingly reliable news source tells you that you may be unhappy, overweight, or that something cannot be done or may be done only in a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily so.

Back to Writer’s Block. Does it exist? I think it occurs only because, sometimes, we writers don’t feel like writing. After all, if we were motivated, we wouldn’t be blocked.

Each magazine provided the same basic formula for overcoming blockage:

  • Use a journal to jot down ideas;
  • Break down the task into tiny pieces;
  • Try writing exercises;
  • Set deadlines and keep them; or
  • Start in the middle.

Perhaps these tips do help writers get motivated, and if so, that’s simply grand. However, I’ve found the strategies listed below to be personally more useful. I’d like to humbly share my means of kick-starting my writing when I’m not in the mood or suffering from a bit of rebellion:

  • Take a shower – I believe I could write the Great American Novel if only I could do all of my dictation and writing from within my shower walls. Water shooting over one’s person is a great source of mental stimulation.
  • Switch gears – Instead of trying to write, make friends with your vacuum, do the dishes, take a drive, exercise or work in the garden; sometimes these simple tasks elicit a flurry of creativity.)
  • Read – someone else’s book or a magazine may generate a new idea. I wrote an article about my sociopathic Australian Shepherd after reading a chapter of The Scarlet Letter. Sounds improbable, but true, and the article was published.
  • Do something you’ve never done before. (I tried weed whacking my back field; I managed to eradicate all errant weeds in a square foot strip, ripping only one pant leg in the process and requiring just a few stitches above one knee, before becoming sufficiently motivated to return to my literary pursuits.)
  • Keep the vision in your mind of how marvelous you’ll feel when it’s done.
  • Go out among the masses (for heaven’s sake, if this doesn’t give you stuff to write about, nothing will).

Be patient with yourself and realize everything starts with a little thought and desire, both of which are easily within our reach.

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15 Comments on "Writer’s Block or Writer’s Rebellion"

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Devon McKay
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great post Lida. And, oh so true. Also lioved the suggestions. I’ll have to try one or two when I’m feeling blocked.

Nicci Carrera
Guest

I agree with everything you said! Reading is my go-to. Some authors make me long to run to my computer and write. Showers used to be good but I live in a drought area so it’s not so good any more! I have to turn off the shower between steps. No fun!

I LOL’d on your weed whacking adventure, btw.

Barbara Bettis
Guest

Enjoyed the post. When I’m writing-challenged, I like to drive or read. Oddly, in reading my mind is on the story, but my subconscious is grappling with my own story. I’ve gotten some insights that way. And driving-the plot lays out before me so clearly. The problem is putting it all down once I’m in front the keyboard again :)

Maria Imbalzano
Guest

Because I have so little time to write, I’m usually excited to put my fingers on the keyboard and start creating. But when ideas stop, we do need to look outside of our space to find inspiration. Thanks for your post, Lida.

raymona anderson
Guest

You make some good points. I’ve had what I called writer’s block a few times. Usually its because I haven’t sufficiently thought out a particular section of the book, or need to do more research on something pertaining to that section. Occasionally, it is something personal, a family crisis or something.

It doesn’t take long for me to get going again once I admit to the problem at hand and work past it.

Kathryn Knight
Guest

Great post! I find, for me, exercise does the trick a lot! I teach zumba and aerobics classes every morning, and having to focus all my attention on what I’m cueing a class of people to do forces my mind away from the writing issues. Often, afterward, that mental break was enough to give my subconscious the opportunity to solve the problem.

Starr Gardinier
Guest

Great post!

Mary Gillgannon
Guest

I think doing something physical is the key. (At least for me.) I feel like it forces my consciousness into the creative side of my brain and the next line, idea, etc. suddenly appears. But I tend to do safe things for exercise, like watering my garden, making tea, going downstairs to feed treats to my spoiled cats, or something along that line. Great post. LOL.