You want to write but don’t know what to write next. You sigh and hang your head and begin to have doubts about your vocation. All of us who are trying to make friends with the pen and paper have experienced writer’s block at one time or another. But is it really a bad thing?
In my case, I’ve come to interpret writer’s block as a sign that I’m trying to write something that I shouldn’t be writing. A story that is remote from my heart and from my mind, that covers events I don’t know anything about. Or a story for which my voice is not yet mature enough.
Writer’s block is more likely to occur when the narrative has one protagonist only, at least for me. Stories with multiple characters and locations admit more possibilities and leave more free room for the imagination.
Also, I’m more likely to face writer’s block when I don’t plan the story ahead, or set milestones. I find the restrictions and limitations that an outline creates liberating.
“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”
― Kurt Vonnegut
The species of writer’s block I’m most likely to suffer from is not the product of a lazy imagination, but of an overworked one. I have so many ideas that I don’t know which to develop first. I want to write romances and adventure tales and thrillers, and some I want to be fantasy and others realistic, and half I want to be novels and half short stories, and I wish I were a triple-headed centipede so I could write them all at once.
In the end, I don’t think writer’s block is a bad thing. I think it’s just a symptom that you’re not telling the right story. Because if you would tell the right story, everything would fall into place, and although the writing won’t be easy – it never is – it will feel right.
What do you make of writer’s block?