Writer’s Block? Maybe You’re Writing in the Wrong Format

From Jane Friedman:

Earlier this year, I took a week-long writing retreat at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony in Temecula, California. I had an idea for a new project and had written about 10,000 words, but I wanted some focused time to dive in and figure it out.

The week started off well. I wrote 13,000 words in the first two days, exploring characters and drafting scenes that had been percolating in my head, but on the third day everything slowed down. I simply couldn’t think of what else to write.

In the past I would have called it writer’s block, but I don’t believe in writer’s block anymore. In fact, in my coaching program, I devote an entire hour-long lesson to dismantling writer’s block because I believe fervently that it’s not a thing. It’s just a catch-all phrase we use to describe other things that keep us from writing.

But sitting there, staring out the window of my cabin in Temecula at the unusually verdant valley below, I began to worry I had been wrong. What if writer’s block really IS a thing? Not only was it a concern for my immediate circumstances, but it seemed to me that if writer’s block really was a thing, I would have to write a letter of apology to every writer I’d ever worked with. Had I really been wrong all along? In my mind, a spiral of darkness opened like a gaping mouth.

But wait, I thought, I had never, in all my years of coaching, failed to help a writer get unblocked. I just had to coach myself a bit. I mentally stitched up that pit of despair and instead imagined the conversation that might take place between April Dávila the frustrated writer and April Dávila the writing coach.

Frustrated April: The words just aren’t coming.

Writing coach April: Is the material too fresh? Maybe you need to do some more research.

Frustrated April: No, I know what I want the story to be. I’ve been outlining for months.

Writing coach April: Are you maybe feeling overwhelmed, burned out?

Frustrated April: Are you kidding? (gestures at gorgeous view from my cabin that I have all to myself for a whole week) The words should be flowing like vodka at a Sean Combs party. (bangs head against the desk)

Writing coach April: Maybe you’re not writing what you think you’re writing.

Frustrated April: (lifts head) Wait… what?

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman