To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write.
I didn’t believe in writer’s block. I was a journalist, and if I could write every day, so could you. So could every writer.
When writers whined about their little block, I wanted to yell, hit the keyboard and make those fingers dance. Just start writing. Just write. Write! Sometimes I did tell them. Then happy hour ended.
See, the real world of writing – where you actually write; where your writing is a job – doesn’t accept the concept of a block lodged in the part of your brain that processes written language.
Allow me to provide some real-world examples.
Example one. The newsroom.
You’re a reporter back from a city council meeting. You have 15 minutes until deadline.
Editor: How’s that story coming?
Reporter: Kind of slow, actually.
Editor: Underneath my desk is a bottle of whiskey. Take a shot. That’ll pick up the pace.
Whiskey consumed. Five minutes pass.
Editor: We needed 12 inches. Now we need 15 or we’ll have a hole.
Reporter: Fifteen inches? I can’t. I just can’t. I have writer’s block.
Editor: Write the story or write your resignation letter. I’ll be back in 10 minutes for one or the other.
Example two. The PR department.
The boss enters your office. You minimize your screen to hide eBay. (Your bid on a cake decorating kit is about to expire.)
Boss: We’ll have the annual report in time for the annual meeting, right?
PR pro: I was just about to email you about that report. The annual report is expensive, and it’s bland and technical. Who reads it? You. Nobody else. So I’m thinking we should do the annual report every other year.
Boss: But it’s an annual report. And it’s a requirement of our bylaws.
PR pro: But I have writer’s block!
Boss: What’s that?
PR pro: I can’t write that report. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much time I spend with a blank document, I can’t get it out.
Boss: Excuse me? Can’t get it out? Take a laxative and get out a rough draft by Friday.
Example three. The public affairs team.
Boss: I want to read our editorial before you submit it to the Star Tribune. I’ve got some time this afternoon. Just leave it on my desk.
Big sigh from the media pro.
Boss: Is there a problem?
Media pro: The topic is so complicated. It’s impossible to break it into a digestible and snappy 500-word commentary. I’m certain they won’t print it, so why waste the time?
Boss: Every person in the state will be affected if the Education Fiduciary Subcommittee passes the Guidelines for Fiscal Obligations Regarding Other Post Employment Benefits for Certified Staff In Public School Districts. GFOROPEBCSPSD. Everyone at the Capitol is talking about it.
Media pro: GFOROPEBCSPSD just isn’t sexy.
Boss: Make it so.
Media pro: Truth is, I have writer’s block.
Boss: Truth is, you’ll be permanently blocked from entering this workplace if I don’t see that editorial – that sexy editorial – on my desk after lunch.
So there you have it. Writer’s block doesn’t exist. It’s an excuse to do avoid the unpleasant aspects of writing. Writer’s block is a fraud perpetuated by writers who want to watch Dr. Phil instead of working.
That was my unshakable belief – until I had writer’s block.
More on that tomorrow.