Why I think "Writer's Block" is Not a Myth
There are authors including one of my favorites, Jodi Picoult, who claim that "writer's block" is non-existent, that it's a mere myth: "I don't believe in writer's block. Think about it - when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn't it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer's block is having too much time on your hands."
As much as I admire Jodi Picoult, I find the last line slightly offensive because I am an English teacher, an author, an editor and a mother of three. Thus, I certainly do not have "too much time on my hands" nor do I consider myself lazy because I don't even have time to be lazy. What I do have is an immense passion for writing, one that keeps me up late at night while the house sleeps.
Still, there are times when I have experienced that moment where my mind is no longer running. Just as the motor of a car helps the car run and it drives down the road until the driver spots a deer or a flock of sheep and must come to a stop, my mind...my writing flow eventually comes to a halt. And just as the driver must patiently wait for the deer or a flock of sheep to cross the road before continuing the journey, I need to pause in order to analyze what I have written so far before contemplating my next destination.
Furthermore, this sudden stop or "pause," for lack of a better word (I mean, let's be serious, there's no way to make the words, "writer's block," sound ornate or flowery), can happen at any point in the writing process: right after coming up with an idea or concept, before creating a mindmap/outline/plan, right before the first word in a manuscript, right in the middle of it all, etc. One can call it procrastination but one of the processes is to step away from the text. Think of it like a dirty window that you've just sprayed and wiped; you need to step away from it to make sure you cleaned up all of the spots, right? Writing requires diligence and it requires many, many, many...many and more looks before it is nearly perfect (and I say "nearly perfect" because come on, we're writers, it's never going to be perfect).
However, in all of this talk of "writer's block," I don't doubt there are other driving forces that motivate us to move forward and each of you, writers, have your own strategies. Some of you prefer research; others prefer looking at videos or photographs; some of you might require a walk around the town or through natural surroundings; others need a real motivation boost through watching motivational talks or reading motivational quotes and then there are some of you who require a simple beverage (coffee, tea, hot chocolate) to freshen up the mind. Regardless, what I absolutely recommend after you've experienced your own writer's cleansing process to unclog that block, always go back to your initial plan and read your text from the beginning no matter what point you are in the book because this will help you get your writing mojo back and edit at the same time!
I leave you with this interesting fact: while Google immediately defines "mojo" as "magic charm, talisman, or spell," The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, "a quality that attracts people to you and makes you successful and full of energy."
As for you, Jodi Picoult, if you're reading this, I just want you to know that "Nineteen Minutes" was mind-blowing and phenomenal!