Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Writer's Blockhead

I have three entries pending for this blog and have so far been able to complete exactly none of them. So I decided to write about writer's block. In one sense, it's a subject on which I am somewhat of an authority because I experience it frequently enough. But I honestly don't know a cure and doubt there is any sort of universal panacea for the condition. Like any mental or emotional problem, one person's remedy is another's toxin.

The cause of writer's block--for me, anyway--generally has to do with trying too hard, either because I haven't written anything for some time and decide I'm "due" or because a great idea has dawned on me and I can't hammer out commensurately worthy prose. An oft repeated phrase about writer's block goes "it's all in your head." Which, of course, is the problem! Another alleged cause of the condition is stress, but that of course is the time people need to be writing and failing to write only adds to the anxiety, so the paradoxical nature of writer's block has no doubt occurred to thousands before I ever thought of it.

In "Pure Drivel", a delightfully off-the-wall collection of musings, Steve Martin defines writer's block as "a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol." Martin, as is often the case when at his most absurd, has a point: writer's block can become quite a self-indulgent exercise. And a self-perpetuating one. That's one reason I hope this silly aside can help me get back to the marginally more meaningful material I began weeks ago and have as yet failed to finish.


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