Does writer’s block exist?
November 15th, 2013
So I happened across this post over at Nathan Bransford’s, and though I usually like Nathan’s blog and find him thoughtful in his opinions, I have to say, I could not disagree more with the point he is making here.
Here is what Nathan says: “When people encounter the phenomenon otherwise known as “writer’s block,” what they are really describing is one thing and one thing only: writing stopped being fun.”
And then he goes on to give advice about how to get over yourself and write even when it’s not fun. Which is all very well. But he is missing the OTHER kind of writer’s block. You know. The real kind. The kind that honestly does crush a writer’s ability to write. The kind that Judith Tarr describes here
“For all those who deny that there is a genuine, gut-wrenching, brain-breaking, soul-destroying inability to get words of fiction down on a page, I am here to tell you in all sincerity: Lucky, lucky you. May you always be so blessed. And may you never slam head-on into that wall and have to hear that there is no wall and you are just making it up and what you are going through is bogus.”
What Judith Tarr is describing, and Nathan Bransford is missing, is writer’s block as an expression of serious clinical depression.
I should add that this is not Tarr declaring that writer’s block can arise from clinical depression. This is me stating that what Tarr describes fits clinical depression to a T. If you have ever feel the way described in Tarr’s post, then I hope you seek help for depression rather than waiting it out, because I’m convinced that depression is the underlying issue.
Clinical depression is not something that you can overcome by an effort of will. If I’m right that some cases of writer’s block actually arise from depression, then when a writer is suffering from this kind of writer’s block, it will not help to have anybody deliver well-meant advice that there is no such thing as writer’s block and they should just sit down and the words will come. Because they won’t.
I am not, happily, speaking from experience. I think I have mentioned before that my family seems to have lucked out on that particular genetic lottery.
But it would be nice if those who, like me, are spared the ravages of real honest-to-God clinical depression, hesitate to declare unilaterally that no one else suffers, either.