ome days I fear writing dreadfully, but I do it anyway. I’ve discovered that sometimes writing badly can eventually lead to something better. Not writing at all leads to nothing.” (Anna Quindlen, Pulitzer Prize winning author)
“There is no such thing as Writers’ block for writers whose standards are low enough.” (William Stafford, celebrated American poet)
There are two contrary opinions, that: (a) Writers’ Block is real, and (b) There’s no such thing as Writers Block...
And both are met with similar advice: (a) Keep on writing, even if badly, and (b) Lower your standards (your goals), and then keep on writing...
In either case, while you may not pen a prize winner, the assumption is that if you keep pumping out words something good will eventually come of it...
So, what are we to believe? I can vouch for the Apeman-sized Writers’ Block - the inability to begin or continue work on a piece of writing; and for the lesser known, Chimp-sized, ‘Writers Cramp’ - a temporary reluctance to put words to page.
Either way, writing is not easy, whether for magazines, newspapers, contests, or one of those block-buster books you know will make you famous. All too often inspiration simply won’t come. You feel stymied. Blocked. Cramped. In short, angrily “out of sorts”...
More than one writer has said that there various forms of Writers Block. Here are 10 types plus one (#11), given that many Nepali writers occasionally stumble over that complex second language, English.
The 10 are, according to writer C.J. Anders:
1. You can’t come up with an idea. (You stare at the blank page, waiting, waiting...)
2. You have a ton of ideas but can’t commit to any of them, and they all peter out. (Harder yet; you have many thoughts and bright ideas, but which one to go with...?)
3. You have an outline but you can’t get through this one part of it. (Okay, you’re organized, but still stumbling along...)
4.You are stuck in the middle and have no idea what happens next. (Someone has suggested at this point: break a glass(!), to upset the routine to get back on track...)
5.You have a terrible feeling your story took a wrong turn, and now you’ve hit a dead end. (What now, start all over again...?)
6.You’re bored with all these characters; they won’t do anything. (This happens whether you’re writing novels or non-fiction stories...)
7.You keep imagining all the reasons people are going to say your story sucks, and it paralyzes you. (There goes your self-esteem...)
8.You can’t think of the right words for what you’re trying to convey in this one paragraph. (This is a short and temporary form of Writers’ Block that you must write on through. It’s a form of Writers Cramp...)
9.You had this incredibly cool story (or idea) in your head, and now you’re turning it into words on a screen and it’s suddenly dumb. (Good grief! And, it seemed so brilliant a moment ago...)
10.You’re revising your work, and you can’t see your way past all those blocks of text you already wrote. (At least you are in the revision mode, which is a positive step forward. Perhaps reading it aloud to a friend and getting her advice will help...)
The 11th Writers’ Block issue (my addition) to the list is this:
11.You are having trouble coming up with the right phrase or word in a language (e.g., English) that is not your Mother Tongue. (Ahh, the devil of it. Ask an English-as-a-First-Language-speaker for help... Even I do that occasionally, in (English) my own first language.)
There you have it. Take your pick. Writers Blocks and Cramps galore.
But, despite all, the only way forward is forward: Keep On Writing~!
The source of Writers’ Block types is an article entitled ‘10 Types of Writers’ Block (and How to Overcome Them)’, slightly adapted here (and far more extensively discussed at its source), is by Charlie Jane Anders, online at io9.com/5844988/the-10-types-of-writers-block-and-how-to-overcome-them (dated: 10/06/11).
The Spilled Ink essayist, a contributing editor to ECS Nepal magazine, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.