Blog by Toby Welch

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Writer's Block - Real or Hoax?

Writer's block.                              

    Those two words
    have such power
    over many writers.
    But are we giving
    them too much clout?

Many writers look at a blank piece of paper or an empty computer screen and feel a trickle of panic run up their spine. That emotional rush can lead to an irrational fear of failing. That can lead to no writing getting done. The person labels their self-imposed paralysis as writer's block and, eager to have a label for their non-production or an excuse to get out of writing, they declare, “I've got writer's block!”

In a best case scenario, this declaration only lasts an hour or two. The worst case scenario is that the self-imposed mental state lasts for years, even decades or the rest of a person's life.

Don't give in to the desire to do anything besides your writing. Sit your behind down in the chair in front of your keyboard or notepad and be accountable to yourself and your writing goals.

On the other hand, maybe writer's block is a handy way to rationalize not having written any words that day or that year. When was the last time your doctor called to reschedule an appointment because he or she had doctor's block? Has your lawyer ever missed an appointment due to lawyer's block? The idea sounds almost too absurd to even mention it. The patients or clients would probably think they had lost their minds! Yet many writers believe writer's block is a valid reason to forego writing.

Perhaps writer's block is merely a fallacy, an excuse to be lazy. It is a great excuse for why you didn't do your daily word quota or to justify not getting started on your writing assignment. If you spend four hours playing Mafia Wars online or watch the latest Brad Pitt movie and you don't get any writing done, you aren't suffering from writer's block. You made a conscious choice to spend your time not writing; it's nothing more complicated than that. You aren't mentally blocked, you chose to surf the Internet instead of pounding out 1,000 words.

Don't allow yourself the luxury of an excuse not to write. Hold yourself accountable to what you committed to and get it done!

 Caveat: One exception to the writer's block fallacy, in my opinion, is when you are writing about something that is psychologically challenging for you. Things that bring up painful memories and uncomfortable feelings can lead to blocked words. For example, if someone is writing a novel and gets to the chapter that involves a rape scene, it would be understandable if the writer struggled getting through the chapter if he or she had been raped. If a recent widower gets asked to write an article on how it feels to lose their spouse, having a bout of writer's block at the thought of reliving the pain is explicable. In such cases, writers may need more time or help from an outside source to work through the issue and get unblocked.