I Don’t Believe in Writer’s Block

Old Orchard Beach – Photo by Dan Steven Erickson

I believe in writer’s block about as much as I believe in writing being a supernatural process. Zero.

Recently, I wrote about how songwriting is not some kind of magical process. Songs don’t magically appear. They aren’t inspired by some universal power, although they can be inspired by your own interests in a topic. Writers are not conduits to some mystical process. Writing is hard work. And that’s exactly why I don’t believe in writer’s block.

When I was younger, I might have had times when I felt like I was stuck, like I’d never write another song or poem before my life ended. But I’m happy to report that that hasn’t happened for at least 10 years. And there’s a simple reason for it.

I write. Period.

Let me repeat that. I write. And writing is work.

You can only convince yourself you’re stuck.

If there is no secret power guiding us as writers, then we have complete control in how we write. That includes how often we write, where we write, when we write, and what we write. And I’ll say it again. Writing is work. Writer’s block is nothing but an excuse to not want to do the work. Period.

Will there be times that we are less inspired to write than others? Absolutely. Will there be times when the exact song or poem or story you sit down to write isn’t easily coming? Of course. That’s life. You don’t always feel like going to work or washing the dishes either. But just because there are times when writing is harder than other times doesn’t equal “writer’s block.”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat down to write about a specific idea and wound up staring at a screen, or writing a short amount and hitting the delete button. That’s not writer’s block. I simply was not in the right mindset to write what I thought I might at that moment. Instead, I might change topics or take a break. Or journal.

Ways to beat the down times.

First of all. you don’t always want to beat the down times. Sometimes, when we are less inspired to write it’s because we need a break. You take vacations from work. You take breaks from relationships. Taking short, or even extended breaks from writing, is not a bad thing.

However, if you feel like you just can’t get into the groove of writing, there are dozens of ways to reset or refresh, including resisting distractions. I’ll include a few of my favorites here.

  1. Go outside and get active: Exercise stimulates the mind. For me, getting outside into nature and simply walking helps tremendously. It gives me time and space to contemplate.
  2. Practice another creative process: So you’re staring at a blank page. Go play your piano. Take some photos. Practice an alternate creative process for a few hours, days, or even weeks. Writing will come back around.
  3. Write in a different genre: This is my favorite tactic. Why? It works. If you call yourself any kind of writer but then tell me you have writer’s block and can’t write anything, I might not believe you’re actually a writer. It’s not hard to write something. I’ve spent the last 15 minutes writing this essay. When you struggle with a specific writing project, write something else for crying out loud. You’re a writer, right? Work on a poem when you’re stuck on your novel. Write an essay when a song won’t come. It’s simple, but it’s work.

So, next time you think you have “writer’s block,” remember, writing is work. You likely are not blocked. You just are not in the mood or space to do the work. Take a break or write something else. If you really want to complete a writing project, you will. – dse

  • Learn more about creativity
  • Get new Anderhill music first
  • Get special discounts
  • Sign up for the newsletter

Author: Dan Steven Erickson

Dan Steven Erickson is a great undiscovered American songwriter.