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On Writer's Block

Categories: MFA Confidential Blog.

“It would probably be too strong a statement for me to say
I don’t believe in ‘writer’s block.’ But I almost
don’t believe in it. I think the term is a bit pretentious. I think everybody
has days when his or her work is not flowing, no matter what the work is. . .
All of this is not to say that I’m unsympathetic to the feeling of anxiety and
or/depression that can come when a writer simply can’t write. I’ve had fallow
periods myself. I know you can start thinking you’ve lost it; that it’s never
coming back; that you’ve said all you can ever say. But I’ve also learned that
the best thing about being ‘blocked’ is not to worry about it—to enjoy it,
even. Think of it as a mandatory holiday. Go look at art; sit in an ice-cream
parlor and eat a cone; visit a friend; see a movie; lie in bed with a great
book and read. Most of all remember this: if you have the calling to write, it’s
not going to go away any more than the shape of your nose will. Your need and
longing and ability to express yourself will come back. Like love, you can’t
force it. Like love, it will find you when it’s ready. In addition to that,
just because you’re not putting pen to paper or fingers to computer keys doesn’t
mean you’re not writing: If you are a writer and you’re observing, you’re
working.”

-Elizabeth
Berg, Escaping into the Open

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2 Responses to On Writer's Block

  1. Kate says:

    Kathryn– I agree. We need to let go of that self-editor-monster or we won’t get very far. My monster is in full effect lately and I’m really trying to squash him!

  2. I’ve said that, too – that I don’t believe in writer’s block, and I always feel arrogant saying that, but it is what I believe.

    I think when we self-edit, especially on those earlier or first drafts, we can feel what seems like "writer’s block" and is instead only that voice in the back of our heads telling us we suck and shouldn’t write another word because we are stupid and dumb and can’t write worth a lick and should be ashamed of what we’ve written or published(laugh) -or something like that! But when we do not listen to this negative self-editor-monster, the words release, one after another, bam bam bam pow!

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