I hate the term “writer’s block.”
Not because it isn’t apt, but because I feel like it singles out writers and seems to suggest that we–unlike others who toil in a creative vocation–are the sole owners of this metaphorical brain boulder. Like Sisyphus (apparently), we writers are forever doomed to push this gigantic block before us, as we struggle onward and upward toward our goals of literary immortality, stopping in our tracks each time the writer’s block becomes too heavy or cumbersome for us to wield it.
Bullshit, I say. Poppycock.
Writer’s block isn’t just a poorly named myth, it’s also a total f#%*ing cop out. Since the dawn of time–or the invention of the written word, whichever came first–writers have been using this special, exclusive block as an excuse to throw up their hands and quit. (Or drink heavily, if you subscribe to the Hemingway school of creative writing habits.)
That’s why I prefer to think of this issue as sort of the Shroedinger’s Cat of Inspiration. If you shut it up in a box, and refuse to look at it, the writer’s block neither dies nor ceases to be. Then again, it’s no longer there in front of you, either, so in a way you’ve triumphed.
But the moment you stop and acknowledge that you might once again be stuck, you’re essentially opening the box and letting that damned, inspiration-sucking cat back out into your life, where it then sits on the keys of your laptop or trendy bourgeois typewriter and meows all kind of nasty insults. “You can’t. This idea sucks. Your characters are boring. Your scenes are trite.”
But here’s my point. This cat might be a total asshole. But he plagues all of us equally, in every aspect if our lives. He’s the voice in your head telling you not to apply for that job, or go to grad school, because you’ll never succeed. He’s that fat little ball of invisible fur sitting on your chest in the morning when it’s time to get up and start your day. He’s even that pesky little whisper of doubt on a first date with that person you secretly adore, but think you’ll never be good enough for.
So, fellow writers. The next time you feel the need to label this thing you’re having as writer’s block? Do yourself a favor and call it what it really is. Laziness, self-doubt, a need to revise…and then throw it in a box and poison it to death.
4 thoughts on “Cat Got Your Tongue?”
I knew there was a reason I’m a dog person… I’ve actually forgotten what we called “painters’ block” when I was in art school. Something cool and, um, artsy, no doubt. But you’re right, it all boils down to the trollish inner voice saying “you suck, and you will always suck, no matter how hard you try not to.” I think I’ll toss that troll in an empty Valentine’s chocolates box.
I love your attitude – call it what it is indeed. My writing frustrates the life out of me because I’m always striving to make it better. That’s no bad thing!
This is s fanfreakingtastic post! And I totally agree. I think too many people use writer’s block as an excuse while refusing to own the real reasons they’re not writing. Thanks for telling it like it is. Also, I love the picture of that cat.
Thanks for commenting everyone!
(And in case y’all were wondering, that’s my kitten Skeletor, trying to devour a Christopher Moore book.)
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