“What can I do about writer’s block?” I am asked regularly by stumped writers.
“Pretty much the same as plumber does with a plumber’s block,” I’ll respond.
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People twitter at this reply. Perhaps it’s because they take my response for a joke and they’re anticipating a good punch line.
Do what you have to do.
But, this is no joke. A good plumber, I tell these “blocked” writers, goes about his job whether he’s inspired to lay in the pipes of a new bathroom or not. He solders, joins or cuts pipe that afternoon whether he feels like it or not. It’s the same with a writer who is serious about writing. Writers write because writing is what they have to do to get their work done.
Writing doesn’t entail only composing new text—the material whose creation we often attribute to “inspiration.” The task of writing also includes a whole array of support services: research, editing existing copy for content and technical problems, rereading copy to check the effectiveness of transitions, etc. As long as a writer thinks of writing as putting new words down on paper, then there is bound to be a writer’s block problem.
When, however, a writer thinks of writing as the total production, then any number of tasks produce the satisfaction of “writing.”
Stages of writing
Remember that there are many stages to the writing process.
- pre-writing (internal and external research and preparation)
- making public
If you are “blocked” when it comes to writing, work on one of the other tasks which is indispensable to the writing process. Who knows, by the time you get back to actually writing you may have a new spark of “inspiration.”
Good luck writing!