The phrase has become a cultural symbol — meaning everything from feeling uninspired, to being creatively distraught and incapable of every producing anything worthwhile ever again.
It’s dramatic, to say the least.
But that’s about as far as the conversation typically goes. People proclaim, almost with great pride, “I have writer’s block! I can’t write!” as if this is a symbol of their hard work leading up to this point — their creative well running dry from producing too much brilliance.
Writing is an extremely under-appreciated and over-simplified art.
The masses tend to think that writing is really just an extension of “knowing English” (or your native tongue), and that if you can speak, you can write.
While that’s great in theory, that’s like saying anyone with two eyes could be a designer.
The art of writing — and it’s subsequent conflict when the words don’t appear as they should — tends to get reduced down to 1 single component: You either have “writer’s block” or you don’t.
But where does the writer’s block come from?
Why did this imaginary, invisible blockade appear in the first place?
The reason why is as ethereal as the question itself: we all know, in general, where the “writer’s block” comes from — we just don’t want to admit it.
The hardest part about being a writer is the fact that everyone in your life thinks whatever you’re writing is about them.
That’s the truth — and as the artist, it’s a hard pill to swallow.
If you were a musician, and you composed a dark and haunting song in a minor key and played it for your closest friends, I’d wager their first thoughts would not be, “Oh, this in a minor key, and we had a fight last week, and I bet this song is about awful of a person I am!”
But if you’re a writer… Oh my, be prepared — before you’ve even finished the story, the essay, the paragraph even, you can see it in their eyes that they are full of wonder. It’s about them, isn’t it.
Yes! It is! It has to be! There’s no way it’s not!
Right out the gate, no matter how much of a buffer you try to create, what with the descriptions and the adjectives and the setting, even still, the parallel will be drawn, and somehow, some way, whatever you’ve written will be, in the minds of each and every audience member, somehow about them.
Writing is unique in that these sorts of projects do not find their way into other art forms — the closest being music, but because of the lyrics — yes, the lyrics are about them!
Lyrics are writing.
When this imaginary “writer’s block” comes up, it’s worth questioning who you are imagining reading your work.
Being creatively blocked is not your natural state. Something is triggering you from entering that state of flow where the words just fall onto the paper.
So, what is it?
Who is reading your work?
Whose judgment are you preemptively anticipating?
Who do you fear will project themselves onto you and your writing, so much so that you can’t even get yourself to write it in the first place?
Like I said, the hardest part about being a writer is the fact that everyone in your life thinks whatever you’re writing is about them.
Sometimes, it is.
But most of the time, it’s not.
And unless your goal is to be a”writer” that never actually “writes anything,” you need to get over that. Fast.
Write from the heart, and let the opinions fall where they may.