On Writer’s Block

So… both my undergraduate and graduate degrees were in Creative Writing. Not the most marketable degree in the world, for sure (argh) but I did learn some things about the writing process, and one of them came up today.

I spent the last two days trying unsuccessfully to start Act 4 of a 7-act adventure I’m writing for Torg Eternity. Really it’s more like the last four days, because I blew two days doing research to find a sensible place to put it, then had to pick a decent location. All during this process something felt “off” and when I finally lit upon the perfect spot in Google Earth, it felt “right.”

But then when I started to write, I was majorly blocked. I took no less than three naps yesterday, spent hours typing-erasing-typing-erasing, and kept being sucked into social media time killers. Today there were fewer naps but every sentence seemed like trying to extract water from a stone. Nothing felt right. I hated it. In theory it should have been okay, but I could tell it just wasn’t.

In school one of my most insightful professors talked about writer’s block being the unconscious mind exerting pushback. It knows stuff your conscious mind doesn’t, and even through your conscious mind is a better grammarian, your unconscious is a far better writer. If words aren’t flowing, it’s almost always because your unconscious is telling you that a) you aren’t finished connecting ideas and doing preliminary imaginative work, or b) your conscious mind is trying to seize control and do things its way.
When I realized that’s what was going on, I was 800 words in and mostly finished with scene 1. But I realized it would have to be scrapped (I didn’t scrap it yet, just in case I need to steal something from it, but I moved it to the back of the document).

So here I am days later just getting started, but now that I am listening to my unconscious again, I can already tell this is going to be way better!

One Comment on “On Writer’s Block

  1. Interesting way to look at it. I myself favour my conscious mind and beat my will into submission, though it’s the getting started part that’s hard. Once I tell myself it’s okay to write crap though (and power through over 500 words), then my subconscious mind starts to relent. Thanks for sharing this, and wishing you all the best with your WIP!


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