The fabulous sustainable arts designer Dinah Coops recently asked me about writer's block. "Is it a myth?" she asked.
For some writers it's very real.
Personally, I don't buy it. Which means I'm bound to get a big fat case of it next week. Ahh, no I won't.
So here's why I think Writer's Block is bullshit:
I think the act of writing, like much of life, is a decision. A choice.
And, I think of writing as a physical act. It is physically putting fingers to the keyboard or moving pen over paper and then opening up to what comes in: images, characters, words. And pushing through the desire to look out the window or get up and clean out the fridge.
I believe in "writer's block" as much as I believe in exerciser's block or eating-healthfully block or kind-behavior-block or listener's block.
I do believe in not writing, though. And being stuck. Or in a rut, or just in no mood to write. But that's life.
Sometimes you're just depleted. There have been a few times coming off a huge writing rampage where I'm on Empty and I need to fill up a bit. Usually I'm just on Empty in the big scheme of life. Or I can feel something shifting and changing inside me, wanting to go in a different direction. So it's quiet time for a while.
A lot of writers, like me, don't work really well when we don't write. Or exercise. All of us, I believe, have things we need to do in order to work properly as human beings. Gardening, taking a stroll through the woods, running, playing music, reading trashy novels, having sex, helping others, cooking, traveling, praying, making jokes ...
Writers write. And sometimes they don't. But why do we have to give it this sickness called Blocked?
I asked my design friend Dinah about "visual artist's block" and she sings pretty much the same song as I do. Dinah believes it exists, but she's personally never bought into it. Some artists, she said, "just need to take a little vacation from their art work."
In the meantime, here's a beautiful book on the subject of making art in the modern world, Art and Fear. It's not as scary as it sounds, really.
And just to cover my ass: Every writer has a different take on Writer's block. I'm sure it's hard to face the beginning of a new novel after you've sold a trillion copy and became famous and everyone's eyes are on you to see what you'll do.
But for today, I don't believe in writer's block.
Artwork: Gratuitous shot of my chapbook cover, artwork by Darwin Yamamoto.