Writer’s block: A form of procrastination

Since I published my first book in June, a number of people have asked me about how I handle writer’s block. The answer is simple. Writer’s block may be a phenomenon that is only associated with the writing community. In reality, it’s something that each and every person grapples with, often on a daily basis. To put things simply, writer’s block is a form of procrastination.

In Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art, he refers to the writer’s block phenomenon as “resistance.” The thesis of his novel is that we feel the most pressure to not do the thing that we are meant to do. For writers, this of course is writing, but the same principle can be applied to starting a business, painting, or any inner calling. Writer’s block is an excuse that prevents us from sitting down to write by saying that we are not inspired. We can come up with any number of reasons for this if we let ourselves. We tell ourselves that now is not the time to start on that project because of ongoing family drama, commitments at a new job, or any of a slew of tasks that we have to complete. Resistance – writer’s block – procrastination – we battle with these every day when we venture near the “work” that should be central to our lives.

Before I listened to The War of Art as an audio book, I had dealt with these issues but was unable to name them aptly. I came up with excuses such as, “My day job is too intense to start writing, I’ll take a few weeks off and write then,” or, “I just need some time to recuperate from the week. Writing takes too much mental energy.” Listening to Pressfield’s book changed everything for me. I realized that I could come up with an infinite number of excuses about why I couldn’t or shouldn’t be writing. The hard part of writing though isn’t actually putting the words down on paper – that part is easy. The hard part is sitting down and putting all the excuses aside long enough for the words to start flowing. When I sat down to write keeping that thought in mind, the words started to flow. That isn’t to say that every day I sit down in front of my computer the words come easily – certainly not. Some days the words flow with minimal effort, while on other days each sentence feels like pulling teeth. Still, even the most difficult days move the story forward. I don’t write them off as “writer’s block” because I believe that that is a construct of our own minds. As I said before, it is a form of procrastination. The very worst form. Writer’s block is a way of justifying procrastination. When we put off tasks like going to the bank or running an errand, we procrastinate, but we don’t necessarily justify that. When a writer says that they are experiencing writer’s block though, I believe that they are condoning resistance as something that all professionals experience and succumb to from time to time.

To be sure this is my personal point of view, and there are others who would disagree with me. I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Still, even if you disagree, I urge you to read or listen to The War of Art. It changed my perspective on writing and resistance has a much weaker hold on me now than it did before.

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
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My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1ISEUS.

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One thought on “Writer’s block: A form of procrastination”

  1. I was reading Reeve Lindbergh’s book of essays, Forward from Here and came across one where she discusses her experience as a writer… her comments mirrored many of your own and thought you might appreciate her perspective.

    From Reeve M Lindbergh’s Forward From Here

    On Writing,

    “Writing regularly also means stepping out into the unknown again and again. It is only human nature-my nature, certainly- to step right back again or to step aside, step around, do a two step, whatever I can do to keep away from the void that yawns before me every time I pick up pen and paper, or turn on the computer to write. If I were advising a young writer today as Helen Wolff once advised me, I’d say, “Be aware that you are stepping into the void every time you sit down to write. I am aware of this, too. I don’t like it either. Do it anyway.”

    Another thing about planning is that your writing may go off in a completely different direction from your plan’s indicated path. If this happens, in my opinion you must let it go, and go with it. The work will still need your guidance and your skill, but it must not be stifled by fear of abandoning a plan. Writing has its own plans, and its own sense of direction, too. In my experience, it’s best to follow where it takes you, and the way to follow is to keep on writing.”

    p. 112

    Like

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