Why Don’t We Talk About ‘Writer’s Block’ Enough?

Together we can challenge the stigma

I was talking to my writer friend William the other day. We were talking about life as a writer. I was telling William of my first episode of writer’s block.

“Write anything,” he said.

“But I can’t. I’ve got writers’ block,” I said.

“How do you know you have it?” asked William.

“I got a diagnosis from a doctor last week,” I said.

“You what?” he asked.

“I didn’t want to wait on the NHS, so I paid a private doctor some money and he diagnosed me with type 2 writer’s block.”

“Lee, you were conned, my friend,” said William.

“No, I wasn’t. I’m not stupid!” said I, “he was definitely wearing a white coat, and he also had a stethoscope around his neck.”

William shook his head at me for some strange reason.

“So,” I asked, “is there a cure for writer’s block then, William?”

“No,” he said.

“What? How come?” I exclaimed, “please tell me there’s forums, support groups, stuff like that? Anything to get rid of it for me?”

“There are plenty of places online that openly discuss writer’s block, and there are also loads of different types of writer’s block. And each different type has its own subculture,” said William.

“Wow,” I said, “that’s amazing. So there are other people outside of Medium that are talking about writer’s block?”

“Yes, loads of people, many people completely immerse themselves into these subcultures and shut themselves away from the rest of the world,” said William.

“Does this help?” I asked.

“No,” said William.

“So how do I get rid of my writer’s block?” I asked.

“Write about it”, said William.

“That sounds a good idea, but everyone on Medium is already writing about writer’s block,” said I.

“Yes, they are, and it’s a shame, for those that think they are going through writer’s block, it is all they can see,” said William.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Writers that only ever look down – when they are actually capable of looking up – will invariably find it difficult to come up with ideas for creative writing.”

“I don’t understand,” said I.

“There are two types of people in this world, those that look down and those that look up. Look around and you’ll notice that those that look up, regardless of their circumstances are the most contented and grateful of people, and those that look down, are not. Many of those that look down, find it incredibly difficult to look up, now, I’m not saying that it’s easy, but there is always a way to look up, it doesn’t matter if it’s just a quick peek, sometimes that action alone can save your life,” said, William.

“Wow, that’s heavy stuff”, I said, “but what’s this got to do with writers’ block?” I asked.

“Who was it that said write what you know?” asked William.

“Mark Twain of course, but so what?” said I.

“Think about it. You can’t write about life if you’re looking down. Particularly if you conceptualise and internalise this idea of writer’s block, it’s all about mindset,” said, William.

“But writing about writer’s block is still creativity right?” I asked.

“Kind of. On the one hand, it’s still creative to write about writers’ block, but, with the sheer beauty of the world around us, if you looked up long enough and found yourself feeling inspired, would you still find yourself writing about writer’s block, or writing what you really see and what you really know?

“Yeah okay, fair point,” said I, “look, actually, I know you don’t believe in it, but this conversation has cured my writers’ block.”

“How’s that?” William asked.

“I’ve come up with an idea for a story,” said I.

“What’s that?”

“The conversation I’m currently having with you.”


“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”

OSCAR WILDE, LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN

The above story was inspired by Michelle Monet’s I Just Don’t Believe in Writer’s Block. This is Why.

Originally published in Medium publication MuddyUm, 15th November 2019.