Is Writers’ Block real, or simply an excuse for procrastination and laziness?
Yes, Writers’ Block does exist.
That’s not the answer that you’ll find on most writing blogs, but it’s my own honest answer to the question.
However, it’s not quite as simple as deciding whether Writers’ Block does exist, or does not.
And no, I’m definitely not denying that Writers’ Block has the potential to be used by writers as an excuse to procrastinate, or even be lazy.
Side note: Those two terms are not interchangeable, as procrastination occurs for many reasons, and not all of these involve laziness. My short post about procrastination, and why writers’ often avoid actually writing, touches upon this.
Writers’ Block is not a medical condition.
In that sense, it doesn’t exist. You can’t go to a doctor, be diagnosed with Writers’ Block, and come away with a prescription to cure the affliction. But we all realise that, surely?
It can occur when we’re suffering from actual mental and physical illnesses, but I’ll expand upon that, in due course.
However, Writer’s Block, in and off itself, is not a disease.
Writer’s Block is a construct.
It’s simply a way to express the problem that most, if not all, of us face as writers, at particular times.
It describes an inability to write: not in the practical, physical sense, but due to a creative block, and the words seeming not to flow.
It could be a lack of ideas and pure inspiration, or the inability to express our ideas, but the result is not writing, when writing is what we aspire to do.
Many people don’t find the concept of Writers’ Block useful.
This is a fair point. If you feel that it doesn’t help you to move forward, and prefer not to think in terms of “being blocked”, then that’s fine. In that sense, Writers’ Block doesn’t have to exist for you.
But whether you refer to any writing struggles as Writers’ Block, or by some other name, or don’t refer to them at all, you will probably continue to experience, on occasions, the same writing issues that others choose to describe as blocks.
Writers’ Block is an umbrella term.
There are so many reasons why writers can potentially struggle to write.
These include simply feeling “out of ideas”, or overwhelmed by too many ideas, and not knowing where to start.
And, at the other end of the spectrum, there will be: burnout, clinical depression and anxiety, other mental and physical health conditions, and serious personal problems, such as financial difficulties, relationship break-ups, and bereavement.
It’s beyond the scope of this post to offer solutions to Writers’ Block, but possible solutions will become clearer, when the precise causes are identified.
For a lack of ideas and inspiration, there are many simple fixes.
For some of the more complex and severe underlying causes, these simple suggestions won’t be enough. Of course, there are often multiple factors involved, and in such cases, simple ideas may be of some use, even if they don’t solve the problem entirely.
I may well address how to find ideas, and sources of inspiration, in a future post.
Tips for increasing productivity, as a writer