WRITER’S BLOCK II

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thanks for all your comments and criticisms about the initial part of this blog – Writer’s Block I. It seemed to me many are either suffering from Block or have experienced it through their many writing attempts.

Of the many comments I received from my students at my Academy Studio – ScreenWrite.In, also from some ingenuous readers, I guess the most prominent was the statement: ‘When one is hungry and crave to fill in, I don’t think anyone will come up with a hunger-block.’  Some liked the idea, and some vehemently said, ‘you can’t compare the psychological necessities to a physical one.

I still believe without any doubt in ‘persistence’ and the ‘priority’ to write. When you have a deadline to meet and you want the money to survive an emotionally-strenuous-and-huge financial imperative without any other alternative within your immediate control, well, you’ll write. You have to.

Or to look at it another way, though I really well know such a thing called ‘Block’ exists and it IS recognized by psychologists or many an intellectual, I don’t want to believe I know it personally, because that’s going to give me another reason for my Block. And I don’t want my students to know about it either, lest they’d reason out for their not-writing.

Robert Mackee, the author of Story, and a much-sought-after screenwriting guru, at one of his lectures chose a parable to recount Writer’s Block. A little child who bruises his knee won’t, at any time sit on the floor where he has fallen down, and think of the best of ways and words to describe his pain and anxiety to someone in the vicinity. On the other hand, he’ll yell out impulsively and run to his mom or dad and say: “Look at me, I’ve hurt my knee”. The right words will come just spontaneously when it’s required. The child has had something to say and he has got the message across quite well; he never put himself to any thinking process to say that.

What Mackee hints at is that Writer’s Block means, ‘the writer has nothing to say’, so the writer has to be persisting and see that he/she says, at the least, something. Once said that something, the writer will carry on with it. What’s said is how well said is a case the writer can take care of later.

From my readings and research here are a few points which may be of help, when grope in the dark:

1. Imagine Writing as Day-to-Day Work, NOT a mammoth Intellectual or Artistic Effort:  In ‘On Writing’, Stephen King the famous author says it’s better we link writing to a physical work instead of a grave psychological endeavor. If we think ourselves as laborers, as craftsmen, it’s easier to sit down and write. At the end of the day, we’re just creating things – stories, poems, or screenplays – only we use vocabulary instead of bricks and mortar.

2. Isolate Core Causes: Evaluate and analyze for yourself the cause of this Block. Is it a fear of failure, a trait of procrastination, not having a computer to write? You can even seek the help of true friends to isolate the root cause – whether it is internal or external; then, you can make a plan of action to surmount them.

3. Allow Optimal Time for your Project: May be your ideas for a specific Project need their own time to conceptualize. May be you need time to look around you, and find new experiences from life, or reading or watching or hearing from others the many inputs you need for your writing.

4. Don’t Criticize Yourself While You Write: This seems to be a vital reason for many aspiring writers not to write. They look for perfection in the first draft. We all have this over-emphatic desire to impress ourselves too fast. I always tell my students completion is the first perfection when it comes to writing screenplays. There’s a time you can make your writing revised and polished to make it impeccably shining. Anna Quindlin had said, "People have Writer’s Block not because they can’t write, but because they despair of writing eloquently."

5. Habituate to Writing: This again, I believe is a very plausible thing to do, if we aspire to be professional writers. May be, this’s almost another perspective to the point 1 we have discussed above. Like we brush your teeth, have our breakfast or watch the evening news on television, habituate to writing everyday. When that becomes part of our routine, we find ourselves at loss when we don’t do it physically.

Well, I don’t want to say things like the gurus out there, but these that I have found, seems to 
help us around in times of need ‘when we have nothing to say.’ And I found this wonderful website to help any writer come out of Writer’s Block. The intention of this website looked truly generous and fantastic to me:


And before I conclude, I’ll post some quotes which may be of use to many who look for a beacon in the maze of their Writers' Block:

"Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It's a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write."

"One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily."

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one."

"I've often said that there's no such thing as writer's block; the problem is idea block. When I find myself frozen--whether I'm working on a brief passage in a novel or brainstorming about an entire book--it's usually because I'm trying to shoehorn an idea into the passage or story where it has no place."

 "I carry a notebook with me everywhere. But that's only the first step. Ideas are easy. It's the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats."

3. Cope with the Badness
"Don't get it right, just get it written."

"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word."

"I think writer's block is simply the dread that you are going to write something horrible. But as a writer, I believe that if you sit down at the keys long enough, sooner or later something will come out."

"I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o'clock every morning."

"I set myself 600 words a day as a minimum output, regardless of the weather, my state of mind or if I'm sick or well."

"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."

"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule."

"My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and lack of discipline."

Planning to write is not writing. Outlining--researching--talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing."

"To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write."

"The writer's duty is to keep on writing."

Happy writing folks!!!!!

4 comments:

Avinash Prakash said...

I think I will have to make writing physical now.......the creative aspect might flow in :-)

John E said...

You better, Avinash! :)

Palani Murugan N said...

The quote that will get in to my personal book is "When you have a deadline to meet and you want the money to survive an emotionally-strenuous-and-huge financial imperative without any other alternative within your immediate control, well, you’ll write. You have to. "

Mira's Mumblings said...

phew....You almost read my mind there... i suffer from all of those symptoms mentioned....including the phobia for the PERFECT first draft...:)

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