Monday, January 27, 2014

Writer's Block? No such thing!



Good morning, all. Dana Mentink here and I'm just dropping in with a bombshell. I've recently concluded that there's no such thing as writer’s block. There, I've said it. 

Writer’s block occurs in people who can afford to indulge it. Me? I’ve got a deadline. Block or no block, I’m sitting in that chair meeting that word count every day. If the muse isn’t cooperating, the words aren’t going to be fabulous, and they will have to be rewritten, or maybe even tossed in the trash can, but by golly those keys are clacking along in spite of any temporary lull in the motivation supply. I tell myself, just write, even a sentence or two can get the ideas started again. Or if I’m completely stymied, write something else. I’m always working on two books at once so I can alternate if needed. But you don't need to take my word for it. Here is some wisdom from two writers much more accomplished than I. 

Phillip Pullman says, “Writer’s block…a lot of howling nonsense would be avoided if, in every sentence containing the word WRITER, that word was taken out and the word PLUMBER substituted; and the result examined for the sense it makes. Do plumbers get plumber’s block? What would you think of a plumber who used that as an excuse not to do any work that day?”

My favorite piece of advice comes from the fabulous Barbara Kingsolver.
“I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.” Maybe this attitude is what propelled her to write books that have won accolades from the James Beard Award to being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

What are things in your life that you just have to force yourself to do sometimes? For me, there's a quite a list. Would love to hear your thoughts!

14 comments:

  1. Great post, Dana! Love the plumber analogy lol. So true. If we relied on excuses, nothing would get accomplished. My DH always says, 'Just do it so it's done'...so my teen had a custom t-shirt made for him that says that ;). Now, if I could only get my teens to live by those words lol.

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  2. I hear you! I've got two teen girls!

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  3. Hi, Dana! Happy to 'meet' you. As a veteran of many years in the trenches, I think you're absolutely right. Somehow, when my backside hits the office chair cushion, my brain turns on - usually. Sometimes I have to hit the reset button. Or call a repairman (that's going to the kitchen for tea, or wine,) but nothing gets the writing done like one word at a time, one sentence at a time. (Can you tell I have a 2/1 deadline for three chaps and an outline?) I've fought it tooth and nail, but I've finally gotten it by just forcing it to happen, then finding the heart and polishing it.. Welcome!

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    1. I'm with you, Muriel. Good luck with the deadline!

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  4. LOL, my husband is a plumber.
    For the next two years, I have to write a 1000 words a day. If I miss, I have to make them up. If I do them, I won't stress at the deadline date. So, I should reword. It's my job. I will write 1000 words a day.

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  5. I agree with Muriel. The butt has to hit the chair. It usually takes me about 20 minutes of heavy sighing, but then the words start to flow. Best of luck to Pamela on those 1000 words a day!

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  6. I need to get over wanting everything to be perfect before I can move along. I do applaud those who can write two books at once. I need to write one at a time otherwise things get mixed up. I don't call it writer's block, I blame the ADHD that I don't really have. Sometimes I have to step away and come back. Thankfully, I don't have to write 1000 words a day like Pamela!! Good luck :)

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    1. As my British friend says, "Chin up! Best pencil forward."

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  7. Totally agree! I live by the motto that 'a professional can't have a bad day-a tough one-yes, but not a bad one' . What if a surgeon decided not to show up to work whenever he was feeling 'not at his best' or 'not in the mood' lol. I have monthly goals set, which usually requires several thousand a day on average to get me where I need to be each month-usually based on deadlines. I think we can agree that some days we would rather do anything but write-but it's like working out-you feel much better once you get started:)

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    1. "...some days we would rather do anything but write-but it's like working out-you feel much better once you get started."

      Ha! Jennifer, so true. This quote should go viral lol.

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  8. One of my fellow YA authors, an award-winner who's published picture books, chapter books, Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction- so much so that her agent told her to please slow down as she was weakening her image by putting out so much- haha- once told me that all I need is tush-glue (although she used a slightly stronger word than tush :) She said you have to make yourself sit and write, whether you like what those hands are producing or not, because eventually the right words will come but if we are waiting for the 'muse' we won't find them. It's helped me since I have two YAs, two YA novellas and three Heartwarmings coming out this year so, yes, a little tush-glue does the trick- lol

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  9. Excellent advice to sit down and write. I especially liked the reference to the plumber. I avoid doing dishes, dusting, and vacuuming. And as long as my shades are always drawn, I'll never have to wash windows.

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