Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness in Writing – Day 11: Writer’s Block

It’s easy to focus on the negative in the world around us. In observation of a month many dedicate to counting their blessings, I’ve started a 30-day challenge in which I’ll focus on one aspect of my writing life for which I am thankful. I’d love to have you join by sharing about something that has blessed your own writing life in the comments section below. - Jen

I can’t believe I’m writing this, and I know I’m going to have a few people think, “This girl has finally lost it!” but I am actually thankful for Writer’s Block. I don’t so much care for the frustration I feel while staring at a blank page or the irritation I experience as I toss aside one half-formed idea after another, but I am grateful for what it represents.

It’s getting colder, which means people are starting to experience sandpaper in the throat and damaged plumbing in the nose. I’m one of those individuals. Yeah it’s an inconvenience and a pain getting sick, but I recognize that it’s not my body’s intention to ruin my fun. It’s telling me something isn’t quite right.

Over the past few weeks I’ve come to look at Writer’s Block as more of the Writer’s Immune System rather than as the problem itself. I’ve found that in doing so I am better able to evaluate what’s going on with my writing instead of wasting energy fuming at my fickle “muse.” Perhaps I’m trying to force my protagonist to act out of character. Maybe the scene I’m working on really has no place in the overall story and needs to be cut. Or it could be there is something going on in my real life that I need to resolve before I can continue forward in my fictional world.

We see commercial after commercial touting medication that will alleviate the symptoms of colds and allergies. We also see post after post, and even books that show us how to conquer the bane of a writer’s existence.  What would happen if instead we looked at it from another point of view?

Just as a cold is our body’s way of telling us to slow down so it can fight off an infection, Writer’s Block can serve as an opportunity to re-evaluate what we’re doing — to revise, remove, and find resolution — so we can continue on, this time in the right direction.

When viewed from this angle, Writer’s Block ceases to be a curse and becomes a blessing instead.

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