We’re All Blockheads

Lucy yelling "You Blockhead!"

Lucy Van Pelt from “Peanuts.” ¬© Peanuts Worldwide, LLC. All rights reserved.

Every writer can tell you a story about having writer’s block at one time or another. It happens. It’s part of human nature. Just like not doing the dishes or forgetting to get the oil changed on the car.

We’re procrastinators, and we like to put things off. That includes writing.

Now, some writers might say that they never intend to get writer’s block. I’m sure that’s true. I also never intend to whack my elbow into the countertop when I’m in the kitchen. But I also know the kitchen didn’t rearrange itself to cause my accident. It was my fault. If I had planned better, it wouldn’t have happened.

The secret of writer’s block is that there’s no such thing as writer’s block.

Let that soak in for a minute.

Your inability to put words on a page is your own doing. Unless you’re stranded on a desert island without pen and paper, you can always put words on a page. They might not be great words. You might not win any literary prizes for them. But you can always put words on a page.

The hard part is convincing yourself to do it.

First, you have to work past your ego. Allow yourself to write something truly awful. Don’t worry that the scene is backward, and should be written from another point of view. Don’t think about the fact you’ve used the word “handle” three times in the paragraph. Don’t focus on the wooden dialogue or the lack of description. You’ll fix it all in the editing stage.

Put words on the page.

Next, you need to forget your deadlines. I thrive on deadlines — especially in my day job as a copywriter. But forget about them. Forget the due date for the anthology is in two weeks. Forget about your editor who is expecting a first draft of your novel by August. And hardest of all, forget that you don’t even have a deadline and you’re writing for your own personal enrichment.

Put words on the page.

Finally, remember why you started writing this in the first place. Maybe you were intrigued by the character. Maybe you wondered what it would be like to grow up in the Appalachian mountains. Maybe you were trying to find some missing piece inside of you. Start there and begin.

Put words on the page.

Once you begin to write, you’ll discover that you didn’t have writer’s block. What you had was a simple case of self-doubt. You could always put words on the page, you just didn’t think they were the right words. You didn’t believe they were the words anyone would want to read. You didn’t want to risk using up all those words inside of you — which is silly, because the dictionary is chock-full of words you haven’t used yet.

Stop listening to the whispers of doubt you’ve allowed in your mind. Open the windows in your head and let the fresh, clean breeze of a new page blow them away. You have no room for doubt.

You’re better than that. You’re a writer. And there’s no such thing as writer’s block.

Kevin Wohler is a copywriter and novelist living in Lawrence, Kansas. During the day, he works at a digital marketing agency in the Kansas City area. When time remains, he likes to tell stories of the weird and bizarre. And sometimes, he writes them down for others to read.

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