Writer’s Block is a Myth. Want a Cure?
I see many headlines about the problem of writer’s block and methods on how to break through it.
Writer’s block would disappear if writers stopped blocking their emotions. We use words to communicate, but what we communicate are emotions.
Even content writers, salesmen must communicate on an emotional level. Mere facts won’t sell anything. Facts are boring. Decisions to purchase are not solely rational.
What is stopping your emotions? Are you the cool and dispassionate observer of human nature? Do you care to make your readers care about your characters? Or are they just polemical pawns?
Does your audience break into spontaneous applause and cheering when reading your tour de force? Why not?
Do you? Why not?
Are you withholding from me? Would your lover appreciate that?
What makes you think that I, your reader, will put up with it?
Hey! Look at me when I’m talking to you.
Do you think it is ink you put to paper when you write?
It ought to be blood. Preferably, your own blood.
Ever read a story about a contract signed in blood? Pretty compelling image, no? You wanted to know how it ended, didn’t you?
I don’t recommend signing contracts with the devil. (That small print will get you every time.)
But by writing, you make a contract with your reader, to connect. And you must deliver. Or else.
Everyone needs downtime. The cult of 24/7 production is a dead end. Robots can do that. But can robots make us feel?
You may not understand a word about what a software programmer does. But when talking with one, there is little doubt they get jazzed by what they do. They love to talk about the elegance of a program. Programming gets their blood flowing.
Sculpting with ones and zeros. Who knew?
Even stereotypical nerds have emotions. Go figure.
Do programmers get writer’s block?
Why should anyone waste their time reading your erudite and intellectual musings about the nuances of shadow puppets as viewed through the wrong end of a telescope?
You must move people emotionally.
How do you intend to do that if you yourself are emotionally frozen?
Modern journalism has abandoned the ideal of ‘objectivity’ that was the standard when I was in school and a century before that. No matter where you sit on the ideological spectrum, I challenge you to demonstrate that most news today is anything more than propaganda for a given point of view.
Or as Stephen Stills wrote in the song “For What It’s Worth,” in the 1960s, “…mostly say ‘Hurray for our side!’”
Analysis? What’s that? News, nowadays, is all emotion. People eat it up. People are starving for emotion. Even if it’s fake emotion.
People are desperate for involvement. A scary number of people are isolated and may only have friends on social media.
Many people are so removed from actual social activity, due to tending to their 4000 Facebook friends, they are either numb or enraged. This is not healthy.
How do you claim a friend who you would not recognize on the street? How many people can you name who you actually come into contact with — at the coffee shop? A neighbor who lives across the hall from you?
People need connection. And by that, I mean emotional connection. Not isolation.
Move into poetry or fiction and emotions are your raw material. If you aren’t in touch with your emotions or those of your characters, you have a blockage.
Our stories help to provide emotional connection for people. They wouldn’t read stories if they didn’t crave that connection.
Stories are the foundation of human culture.
Knowing the problem brings you more than half way to the solution.
The standard solutions to writer’s block are to take a walk. Start another project. Get active. Wash the car. Clear your head. Watch a sad movie. Whatever.
What would your character ‘A’ feel about the problem? Or character ‘B’?
How do they handle frustration, inertia, fear or stress? Get drunk? Brawl? Please don’t do that. Put your blood into your stories.
But why, and what do your characters suppress? You need to know why, even if they don’t. What’s your best guess?
According to Richard Reynolds in “3 Essential Things Most People Don’t Understand About Addiction,” (addiction), and I paraphrase, addiction is not a disease, but a normal brain reacting to trauma.
What trauma are your characters reacting to? What are they hiding from?
What are you hiding from?
I don’t intend to shame you. I don’t know you. but your emotions are your raw material.
Get them out.