Writer’s block – a convenient myth?

For a writer getting inspired is rarely the problem. The problem is coddling the inspiration after it strikes. A writer has to nurture, spoil, clutch at details, and memorize the elements, the colours, and the textures of that inspirational moment. After that, a writer has to sit down, nudge the inspiration to produce text, coax it to flow out naturally, and beg it not to sound contrived.

Allowing ourselves to be mesmerized by our moment of inspiration without going back later and writing about it, is absolute cheating.

The truth is we all cheat. And don’t we think have enough reason for it? Sometimes it’s physically impossible to write about everything that makes us want to write. Sometimes our schedules, our lovers, families, and friends re-prioritise our lives.

Be it a simple conversation we heard, a gorgeous landscape, or an interaction on the streets, that moment we promised we would write about, fades away as the day progresses.

It is like going to the gym. Most of us know we must. We know we can allocate time everyday but each day something happens to make us postpone our ‘get fit’ agenda to the next day.

All writers are compelled to write. Our need for words is almost that separate conscious in our head that celebrates the recreating of a moment. We need to express humanity and love on paper. We are driven to pound our fear, anguish, and rage on the keyboard. We simply cannot help it when the inspiration takes over. We are mothers to inspiration, no matter how dysfunctional, lazy, busy, or in denial we are about this fact. Writer’s block is just a convenient term for being a bad mother to inspiration by not breastfeeding it.

Even with our 12 hours a day jobs, our 2 hour long commutes, our demanding families, and hyperactive friends; we know we have time to write. We know that if we settled down in our pajamas, closed the door, and sipped a cup of hot tea, we could write for at least fifteen minutes. But it never happens.

Being part of a community of writers can make this happen. Here we can encourage, motivate, or berate each other into delivering a few quality write-ups each week. We can learn and share tips on combating the dreaded block and writing a little each day. That’s not all. We would even get instant criticism on our work by belonging to a community of writers. We know how important that is.

Imagine writing for just 15 minutes a day. It is so much more doable than 30 minutes of cardio! What would 15 minutes a day amount to in six months? A year? We could have a book written in a year by devoting the time it takes to enjoy a cup of steaming coffee.

But there is procrastination. There is a careless dismissal of our own thoughts. Nobody knows this better than us at BWW. Nobody has realized this more.

Even writing a simple blog post on writer’s block tempts us to postpone it. After all, there are authors to be read, a syllabus to be planned, tips to be given out for the time when we will begin our workshops in earnest. There are writers who have written to us asking for critique. Who then has the time to write a blog post on writer’s block?

We do it though. And on time. And that’s the miracle of being dedicated to your writing community.

And you? What do you think? Have you worked with other writers before? Has that helped you gain more focus on your writing? How do you balance your writing schedule with your regular life? Do you think it is a struggle? Or are you one of those miraculous writers who balance writing and life with creamy smooth perfection? What do you do when you face a ‘writer’s block’ moment?

Leave us a comment. We definitely want to know.

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About bangalorewritersworkshop

Bangalore Writers Workshop (BWW) is interested in fostering the creative mind, encouraging a community, and making writers aware of who they are as creators of text. Bangalore Writers Workshop is a unique, effective, and interactive method of bringing a group of writers together and allowing them to study the craft of writing while simultaneously receiving constructive feedback on their own work. BWW uses the workshop method. We run intensive creative writing workshops with small groups in Bangalore. Our groups are fuelled by passion and the creative energy of people with diverse life experiences. Find out more on our website. www. Bangalorewriters.com
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14 Responses to Writer’s block – a convenient myth?

  1. Hmm it looks like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any helpful hints for inexperienced blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

  2. Vidya says:

    I am literally pasting a blog I once wrote on ‘writer’s block”:

    “Paper and pen- they are my most valuable possessions.
    There are times when some revelation fails to contain itself within my mind. At such times, there is the joy of effortless writing. There is no groping for words, there are no pauses. It is a river flowing….effortlessly. On such occasions, the pen struggles….for it has to keep pace with the flow of thoughts.
    And then there are times when I ache to write, but nothing comes out. I put pen to paper, struggle for words, strike off lines in discontentment, and eventually give up. Such is my state now.
    The paper that I write on, is like a temple to me. As I put pen to paper, it is like lighting a lamp. Sometimes, the goddess chooses to make an appearance, and takes abode in my mind transiently, and I experience the joy of creation. At other times, she chooses to remain distant, and I just end up writing something that fails to give me any joy at all. After all, creation can never be a “consciously set up arrangement”. It has to be purely subconscious- it must come out in one flow, unbound by rules and patterns, and yet it is the most beautiful phenomenon in this world.

    Art is like one’s baby- we give birth to it. While we contain it within ourselves, there is the awareness of something beautiful and profound thriving within us, and yet there is not the slightest idea of what physical form it shall take…..until the point it is delivered. That is when our joy at having “created” touches its peak.

    It has been a long time since I wrote consistently. No art can emanate from a mind that is preoccupied. Once in a while, when I glance at the pile of papers that I have scribbled onto in the past, I realize how much I miss writing. Then I sit with a pen, and only end up tearing pages! A few thoughts come occasionally, but they are random, fleeting thoughts that die out as instantly as they appear. Perhaps transient glimpses of the goddess! “

  3. Manjusha says:

    BTW, could you please do someting about the background colour? It’s very difficult to read the text. Not sure if the problem is with my browser, but I see an all purple page with black text.

    • bangalorewritersworkshop says:

      This happens on slow connections. It’s not a browser issue but a connectivity one. Refresh the page, it would help. Our background is white. Thank you for bringing this to our notice.

  4. Manjusha says:

    Good read! Myth or not, ‘the block’ is very real for me. I feel sapped after a day at work and the household chores. Rest really takes priority over the muse, which anyway evaporates when the tiredness sets in. ‘Close the door and sip coffee’ just so I can keep myself awake for another 15 minutes? It never works for me. Believe me, I have tried. I am an extremely impulsive writer, so I have to write when the impulse hits me. This is precisely why a fixed time to write doesn’t work for me.
    I just take a break whenever the muse strikes. A 5-minute break while I am working on a report. A short walk to the cafeteria with either my phone or a notepad and dictate/write. Just enough to get it out of my system to be able to focus on the work again. This works for me. But I’ll probably take a hundred years to finish writing a novel in this mode! 🙂

    • bangalorewritersworkshop says:

      Manjusha, we are exactly like that. Which is probably why we decided to teach and start a community. Because it is easier that way. 😉 It’s been helping us. We also always recommend that our writers carry a book and pen, or a smartphone with them so they can do justice to the inspiration that strikes when it does. That’s a great tip. Thank you. And all the best for your novel. 🙂

  5. chaosbogey says:

    i’m creamy smooth perfection person = no life, all write.

    do let me know when the workshops begin. I shall drop in and mock. :/

    also, you know, be inspired into writing The Great Youth Novel.

    • bangalorewritersworkshop says:

      chaosbogey, thank you, we’d love to have you in the workshop if you are selected. Keep reading us to know about how you can enrol. 🙂 The Great Youth Novel, is it? Why not? 🙂

  6. Ullas says:

    Before I attended the one-day workshop, I used to just give up when faced with writer’s block. Now, I’m trying to make a habit of scribbling on. The piece of paper in which I wrote the ’empathy for the most despicable person’ piece is still on my table. I hope to refine and complete it. Six months ago, I would have consigned it to the dustbin in a matter of days.

    • bangalorewritersworkshop says:

      How sweet! Thank you, Ullas. And yes, persist with your writing. You are a fine writer. 🙂 Let us know if we can help in anyway. 🙂

  7. Andaleeb says:

    I’ve often been asked this question about how I handle writer’s block. The thing is that I never really think of it as a block. If I’m stuck somewhere in the middle of something, I just take a break, a justifiably long enough break and then get back to attack the problem from a new angle.
    However, this post wasn’t just about writer’s block was it? 🙂

    I like the concept of sitting down to write for fifteen minutes a day at least. I would advocate it to anyone who wants to write but doesn’t have the time or inclination for it. When I was working, I found that after hours and hours of content writing, I didn’t have a single morsel of creativity left in me. I tried, I struggled but was able to write my books only after I gave up the job. While I don’t suggest that everyone do that, if you’re really passionate about writing, ideally you should look at it not as some sort of frippery that you do or don’t according to your whims but something that you’re dedicated about entirely.

    • bangalorewritersworkshop says:

      Andaleeb, couldn’t agree more. If one is serious about writing one must give writing some serious time. A break always helps deal with any kind of problem. Sleeping over it is perhaps the best way to deal with most blocks. Thank you for sharing.

  8. repmovsd says:

    I find its easiest to write, when I simply express myself exactly as I’m thinking. As a programmer, I often have “programmers block”, when I simply cant wrap my head around a problem, but since I can echo my thoughts easily as words, writers block is not something I am familiar with. What I have seen of folks with writers block, is that they are writing in a form that differs from how they think, mostly because they want to adhere to a particular style or standard. The solution, is to train your thinking in such a manner that the words in your head are the words you would like to see written. Train your self to speak in a clear and erudite manner, and also think in the same way… Then it’s just a little step to get the words out on paper or RAM

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