In a recent post I wrote about the relationship between creativity and productivity, niftily summed up by my formula, the more you write the more you write. But what happens when the well of creativity suddenly dries up? How much sympathy can you expect from writing professionals? Not much as it happens.
Writer’s block – yeah, right
Novelist and tutor James N. Frey takes a very hard line with people whinging about their writer’s block. He calls blocked writers “the Saint Sebastians of the writing profession”. And that’s just for starters. Imagine, he says, the bricklayer claiming a spot of the old Bricklayer’s Block. Laughable. No, at bottom, writer’s block is an extreme form of cowardice mixed with arrogance, where the writer is paralysed by his own high standards, and yet demands sympathy for this poor affliction that he’s suffering from. Strong words indeed.
Similarly, I recently heard another writer on the radio – didn’t catch his name, dammit – debunking the ‘myth’ of writer’s block. The only thing that stops you writing, he says, is broken fingers.
This unforgiving position can be pretty seductive. Deep down I have an admiration for the straight talking, tell-it-how-it-is kind of person, like Suralun – sorry, Lord Sugar – or Supernanny. That’s because I recognise their message for what it is: a form of tough love. The Freys, Sugars and Frosts of this world are saying it for our own good. Just like my dad and his brand of no-nonsense Caribbean wisdom. You can’t hear, you’ll soon feel!
Before you know it you’re joining in with the big guys. Writer’s block? That’s just for wimps. It’ll never happen to me.
Never say never
Call me superstitious, but you don’t want to tempt fate by bragging either, because you never know what’s lurking round the corner.
Fans of Enid Blyton may remember how Alicia in ‘Upper Fourth at Malory Towers’ got her comeuppance. Alicia was the sharp-tongued, clever girl with zero tolerance for dimwits. But on the day of her School Cert exam – which she’s expecting to ace – a dreadful thing happens. She opens up the paper but can’t concentrate; her brain has suddenly turned woolly! Only after she collapses in a faint and is carried off by Matron is a diagnosis of measles made. Thankfully, her loss of brainpower was only temporary, but the moral is not to take your gifts for granted because one day you might lose them.
Or, to quote another of my dear dad’s sayings, when chickens merry, hawks dem near.
What’s your view on writer’s block? Tough or sympathetic? I’d love to hear from new and more experienced writers.