Today morning when I sat down at my desk to write, I stared at the blank page and nothing happened. I couldn’t think of anything to write. Usually I have more than one idea before I settle down to one. But today morning it was as if my mind was totally blank. I tried to think of something to write, anything at all, but nothing came to my mind. That’s it, I thought, I have writer’s block.
Writer’s block is a problem in the creative process. Some professionals relate it to much deeper psychological problems that the writer is going through while others claim that it does not exist, or even get infuriated by the mere mention of it, like the late Gore Vidal. André Jute went as far as to say:
“Writer’s Block is a non-existent phenomenon that thousands truly believe they have not only observed but experienced. Blocks are to writers as Unidentified Flying Objects are to other cranks.”
Whether we agree or not, whether it’s true that there is such a thing as writer’s block or not, writers and teachers all agree that proper work methods prevent blocks. Journalists and reporters cannot indulge in the luxury of writer’s block as we fiction writers do, they simply don’t have time for it. But then again, journalism is not literature as Oscar Wilde said:
“The difference between journalism and literature is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.”
We all know or have been told by our creative writing teachers and other experienced writers that one of the simplest strategies for breaking free is to write anything that comes to mind, to write drivel, to just write. Some writers spend five or ten minutes at this exercise before they even start their day’s schedule. Automatic writing, or scribbling, is nothing more than a warm up activity. Because as long as you are writing you are not blocked.
So I started to scribble and I told myself, “Write just one page. Remember Betty Smith, she only had time to write one page a day but at the end of a year she had 365 pages. Write one short page of dialogue, of narrative, of description, of anything…just write! Just scribble and write and keep writing until you write your way out!”
William Maxwell wrote:
“If you get it all down there’s a serenity that is marvelous. I don’t mean just getting the facts down, but the degree of imagination you bring to it. …Writing fiction was, and still is, pure pleasure.”