No such thing as writer’s block.
You heard me. Don’t bother arguing. Chuck Wendig said it first, so you know it must be true.
But, but…well you’ve been there. I’ve been there too. You sit down at your computer, or with a clay tablet and chisel or whatever it is you happen to use to write an and…nothin’. Zip. Zero. Nada.
Diddly has moved into your brain and Squat is measuring for the new drapes. It’s not a pretty picture.
But you tell yourself it’s all in your head. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block. Gas station attendants don’t get gas station attendant’s block. Carpenters don’t get carpenter’s block.
So what’s your problem?
See, there are days when I don’t feel like going into work. There are days when I get in my car and I hate the thought of staying so long inside that the sun will be long gone by the time I come back out again.
But I do it anyway. Because I like to eat. Because I like living in a house with air-conditioning and running water. Because I like the idea of my wife not dying from acute ketoacidosis due to lack of insulin. Because I have to.
Writing is the same way for me. Every day I get up and I write a new blog post. Some days I really honestly don’t feel like doing it. But in the back of my mind there is someone out there who is expecting this post. You’ve got my blog in your RSS feed on your phone and if it doesn’t show up before you take your lunch break at work you’re going to wonder what happened to me.
Maybe the person I just described doesn’t actually exist. But in my mind he does. And I’m accountable to him. I’m accountable to all of you. But my other writing? You don’t know about it. You don’t know if I wrote a hundred words today or a thousand. I’m not accountable to anyone for that writing.
Maybe you’re stronger than me. Maybe you’ve got the self-discipline to sit down and work whether you feel like it or not, day in and day out, rain or shine. If you are, congratulations. You will go far in life.
But for me it can be a struggle. There are so many distractions available out there and even though I’ve written about staying committed to your writing before I still struggle with it myself. A few days ago someone tweeted this quote:
“You teach best what you most need to learn.” – Richard Bach
And it’s true. I do my best to encourage you all, and give you a kick in the pants when I think you might need it, but the truth is I haven’t got it all sorted out either. I’m working on it though.
I think fellow blogger The Hack Novelist is onto something. He opens his blog posts every day with the phrase “I wrote x words today.” He makes himself accountable for the work that no one but him sees.
I’m not going to do the same thing exactly, but what I am going to do is find someone to be accountable to. Probably someone out there in Twitterland. Someone who I’ll go to every day and say, “I wrote x words today.”
You may not like that specific scheme, but I encourage you to try something similar for yourself. Make yourself accountable to someone else and see if it doesn’t help you be more consistent with your goals. Because somewhere in the back of your mind you’ll be thinking, “I don’t feel like writing today, but if I don’t I’m going to have to tell Steve that I wrote all of zero words. Guess I’ll pound out at least a few hundred so I won’t look like a total bum.”
I think we’ll all be better for it. Because even though writing often seems like a solitary process, the truth is that this is the place where we need each other more than ever.