Friday, November 20, 2009
Writer's block - Real or Not? by Robert W. Walker
Psychiatry has weighed in on the question of creative blocks and have suggested that they have a beginning in the brain, while writers of poetry, story, and novel tell themselves they just need to get out of their own way and just write. We are at once crafting a story that must allow no wires or strings to show; we attempt to stay off stage, behind the curtain, but at times we see ourselves as did the Wizard at the pulleys and gears and we wonder if we may not simply be frauds at work. Then the doubts seep in like water through rock. It’s been done before by better men than me…TV and Film have eaten up and spit out every idea, so why bother? I can’t compete with CGI effects and CSI effects. Why bother. Who do you think you are anyway? Perhaps a man in need of a vacation, a swift kick, a well-meaning nag to thunder and rail at you at such moments? Some external force to challenge you? And if all fails? Are you left on that lonely street called Writers’ Block, and is there or isn’t there such a place?
Although it has been written about in newspapers and magazines, science journals, books on the creative geniuses of our species, books on inventors and sculptors, depicted in untold films and TV programs including Seinfeld, and although a scadfold of medical/psychological articles have been devoted to it along with entire books and a Woody Allen Play, and despite that it has its own Wikipedia page, and that Google has enough entries in it along with ten-step cures for it for hopelessly ‘blocked’ professional…in fact, enough entries to paper a writer’s walls, DOES this thing really exists…or is it all in our heads?
A great many more people believe it is just a writer’s self-serving indulgence, even sloth, that is at work—even in a writer who has penned untold full length, complex novels. Many naysayers point to any other profession and claim these other professions, say pharmacist, bookstore owner, book reviewer, bank teller, even journalist never cry “blocked” and, I presume then, they believe no person in any other profession has ever quit, given up or in, lost days or weeks due to forces within their craniums, had love and hate drive them from a full day’s work or a divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a child, the loss of a job or health..That no journalist ever missed a deadline, no bookstore owner ever closed up shop or the fight against the big box stores and Wal-Mart—forces outside one’s control.
Regardless, there is more than scant evidence and anecdotes about writer’s block that it also occurs with lyricists, poets, and any creative writing arena. If you disbelieve it, Google it. Here below are a handful of the reams of pages on the ‘malaise of the artistic mind which may actually differ from the mind of a McDonald’s worker, a journalist, a shopkeeper, or a news anchor woman; it may be the same difference one finds in a student who can and does complete an Independent Study project and one who is absolutely incapable of completing work wherein s/he has to craft the project, determine its every part and the sum of all, its every parameter from beginning to end with no guarantees of success or payment or heat for the night or pension or percentage or anything.
FROM GOOGLE – selected from hundreds of pages:
1. Writer's Block -- Practical Tips for Beating Your Writer's Block
Though some people say that writer's block doesn't actually exist, the fact remains that most writers have trouble with writer's block at some point in ...
fictionwriting.about.com/od/writingroadblocks/tp/block.htm - Cached - Similar
2. News results for writer's block
Pete Wentz : Pete Wentz suffered writer's block after Mowgli's birth - 1 day ago
Fall Out Boy member Pete Wentz has revealed that after his son Bronx Mowgli was born last November he was unable to write a song for six months. ...
Entertainment and Showbiz! - 41 related articles »
3. Book results for writer's block
Writer's block: and other problems of the pen - by Jenna Glatzer - 250 pages
Writer's Block: The Cognitive Dimension - by Mike Rose - 160 pages
Writer's block: two one act plays - by Woody Allen - 75 pages
4. Image results for writer's block
- Report images
Books From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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For other uses, see Writer's block (disambiguation).
Writer's block is a condition, associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task in hand. At the other extreme, some "blocked" writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers.
• 1 Causes of writer's block
• 2 Notable blocked writers
• 3 Writer's block in Music
• 4 Writer's block as depicted in other media
• 5 References
• 6 External links
 Causes of writer's block
Writer's block may have many causes. Some are essentially creative problems that originate within an author's work itself. A writer may run out of inspiration. A project may be fundamentally misconceived, or beyond the author's experience or ability. (A fictional example can be found in George Orwell's novel Keep The Aspidistra Flying, in which the hero Gordon Comstock struggles in vain to complete an epic poem describing a day in London: "It was too big for him, that was the truth. It had never really progressed, it had simply fallen apart into a series of fragments.") 
Other blocks, especially the more serious kind, may be produced by adverse circumstances in a writer's life or career: physical illness, depression, the end of a relationship, financial pressures, a sense of failure. The pressure to produce work may in itself contribute to a writer's block, especially if he is compelled to work in ways that are against his natural inclination, i.e. too fast or in some unsuitable style or genre, and he or she is not willing to adapt. In some cases, writer's block may also come from feeling intimidated by a previous big success, the creator putting on him/herself a paralyzing pressure to find something to equate that same success again. The writer Elizabeth Gilbert, reflecting on her post-bestseller prospects, proposes that such a pressure might be released by interpreting creative writers as "having" genius rather than "being" a genius . In George Gissing's New Grub Street, one of the first novels to take writer's block as a main theme, the novelist Edwin Reardon becomes completely unable to write and is shown as suffering from all those problems. 
Recently, the writer and neurologist Alice W. Flaherty has argued that literary creativity is a function of specific areas of the brain, and that block may be the result of brain activity being disrupted in those areas. 
 Notable blocked writers
Well-known writers who have suffered from block include George Gissing, Samuel Coleridge, Ralph Ellison, Joseph Mitchell and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Writers who overcame block and published new work after a hiatus of decades include Harold Brodkey, whose novel The Runaway Soul appeared some 30 years after it was first projected, and Henry Roth, whose first novel, Call It Sleep, was published in 1934; his second, Mercy Of A Rude Stream, did not appear until 1994.
 Writer's block in Music
The album Black Clouds & Silver Linings by the progressive metal band Dream Theater contains a song called "Wither", which is about the fear of having writer's block suffered by the guitar player of the band John Petrucci. It is said that the songs in this album are about personal experiences.
 Writer's block as depicted in other media
In works where writers appear as characters, writer's block has often been shown as part of the story.
This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy certain standards for completion. You can help by expanding it with sourced additions.
• Ask the Dust
• Apur Sansar (The World of Apu)
• Bag of Bones
• Barton Fink
• Deconstructing Harry
• El Goonish Shive
• Finding Forrester
• George Lucas in Love
• I Capture the Castle
• Leaving Las Vegas
• October Road
• The Lost Weekend
• Masters of Horror: The Black Cat
• Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities
• Read or Die
• Secret Window
• Sex and Lucia
• Shakespeare in Love
• Stranger than Fiction
• Swimming Pool
• The Golden Notebook
• The Shining
• Throw Momma from the Train
• Woman on the Beach
• Wonder Boys
1. ^ George Orwell, Keep The Aspidistra Flying, Chapter 2.
2. ^ George Gissing, New Grub Street.
3. ^ Joan Acolella, "Blocked: why do writers stop writing?, The New Yorker, June 14 2004.
 External links
• Psychology of Writing & Revising
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writer%27s_block"
But still some will adamantly deny the existence of this nebulous gadfly of a disorder that comes and goes, and many of these same people will accept that a writer may have a Muse or may Channel some force from beyond. I leave it up to you, but it has been my experience that those who have never suffered a serious, long-running bout with the Block may well not understand J. Alfred Prufrock’s disconnect with the world either.
I invite you to leave a comment, no matter which side of the discussion you fall or stand on.
My latest e-book is 160,000 words, divides into three books in one and Children of Salem saw many years of being a blocked book and fitting it should hold a curse on it as it details the terrors of a Witch Hunt and subsequent trials, all the while a devil called Block whispering in my ear that I was incapable of crafting this complex story, and yet readers call the control of the material nothing short of genius – enough to make even a jaded old writer blush pink.
Happy Blockless Writing, and do leave a comment for me!
"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." - Nash Black