On the nonexistence of “writer’s block.”

January 13th, 2010


We don’t talk about “relationship block.”

We don’t say “entrepreneurial block.”

I’ve never heard it called “talking-to-pretty-girls block.”

If anyone calls it “fitness block,” that usage has escaped me.

My point: we’re all familiar with hangups — our own and others’ — and we have all sorts of language to help us deal with them. This ranges from the therapeutic (Freudian, Jungian, cognitive-behavioral, and on and on) to the commonsensical (“Get over it”).

But that particular piece of language, “writer’s block,” gets us nowhere, because it implies the existence of a special category of psychological beastie that doesn’t actually exist.

Oh, it sounds dramatic and deep to say, “I’ve got this terrible case of writer’s block.” It’s harder to say the honest thing, which is “I’m scared.” It’s hard to work your way through to a goal that has become so freighted with psychological weight that it’s painful even to get started on it.

Go ahead and be scared. Go ahead and start unpacking the psychological load. But don’t call it “writer’s block.”


The inspiration for this post, by the way, came from Michael Neill’s post “The Loaded Goal.” I encourage you to give it a read — he’s got some good advice for you.


(Image by Rebekah Sommer, used under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.)

One Response to “On the nonexistence of “writer’s block.””

  1. Glenda Spain Says:

    It’s because that goal, whatever it is, has become loaded with so much extra significance and meaning that you can barely face it, let alone achieve it. (Michael Neill’s post)

    Some may not know that I’m back in school working on my undergraduate degree which I started back in the 60’s. I’m only taking two classes per semester but spend countless hours worrying and fussing over my online responses! It’s hard; it’s work; it’s isolating; and it’s going to take a long time to finish. Some days I just want to chuck it. But I persevere, because I know it’s what i want to do. This goal now takes up too much time and some days I can barely face it! I think I shall take yours and Michael’s advice to heart!

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