Blocking the Action

 It may take a lot of coffee to work through Writer's Block. Are you prepared for that? Picture from here.

It may take a lot of coffee to work through Writer’s Block. Are you prepared for that? Picture from here.

Writer’s Block is the invention of a scribe who couldn’t turn an assignment in on time, who had too many other things on his mind (yeah it was a man who invented the cop-out, go figure), or was just plain lazy.

Well, maybe not. Maybe being blocked is real. Maybe. But there are ways around it, over, under, through it and the determined writer has to be prepared to find those ways. Most of those ways are constituted in actually doing the work.

Anxiety is what it is. One isn’t necessarily ‘blocked’ but rather is anxious about either the work or something associated with it. Overcoming it is basic problem-solving:

1- What do you want?

2 – Why can’t you have it?

3 – What are you prepared to do to get it?

Being blocked is when the writer gets to the second question and says “I don’t know!” and that’s where the cop-out is. Right there? See it? I. Don’t. Know.

Block is continued when the writer doesn’t have any idea of how to overcome the anxiety that has afflicted him. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do to get what he wants, which is to Write. So instead of calling bullshit and working through the ‘block’, some writers crawl into a bottle (liquor, pills, whatever) and go down for the count, making the anxiety worse.

The best cure I’ve found for being blocked is to actually write. Not what I want to write, but something else, something light and fluffy and not at all related to what I should be working on. The old brainbox is stuck on something, some problem, and it’s all rooted in the subconscious. Time to dig our your Freud, kids, and examine what’s in your head. For instance, I’m writing this post in early June because I’m stuck at a point in my novel where I need to solve a problem that’s going to get out of hand if I don’t think it through a little better.

So yeah, writer’s block is real and has been studied and studied and studied by people smarter than you or me. Being blocked is no excuse. It’s a cop-out to say “I’m blocked so I’m not writing.” That’s an unacceptable response to your craft if one is a serious writer. A lack of inspiration is one thing and also easily solved by a writer who wants to write: go somewhere and open your mind.

You need stimulation but don’t go overboard. You still need to sit down and write. Remember the recipe for a good story: butt in chair, fingers on keys.

You’re not blocked. Get to it. Go.

Jason Arnett is a storyteller living in Kansas and writing in the plains of the fantastic. Some of his work can be found at

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