I do not, as a general rule, suffer from the condition commonly referred to as ‘writer’s block’. There is never a time when I cannot think of anything to write, or when I am so thoroughly disinterested or stumped that I cannot carry on with a particular story. That said, I do get stuck for a variety of reasons in one project or another.
1. New! Exciting! While I’m working on one project, I frequently have other, unrelated ideas. Most of the time, I can jot down a few notes and get back to what I was working on. Once in a while, the new project engulfs my brain and becomes Glenn Close with a pot full of pet rabbit: it won’t be ignored. Unlike a demanding toddler, it needs to be indulged until I’ve got enough to go back to the original project.
2. Stress. I’m actually a pretty laid-back person most of the time. Very little riles me up to the extent I actually get “stressed”. When it does happen, I obsess over the thing stressing me, and lose the ability to focus on anything remotely creative. I even find it difficult to sit still long enough to read books, and wind up playing stupid, mindless games instead of working. When the stressor is significant, it can take a while to get back on track.
3. Stuck! This is as close as I get to real ‘writer’s block’. There are times when I’ve done something wrong in the story, something that, deep down in my subconscious, I know needs to be changed. Non-strenuous exercise, like walking or riding my bike (on the trainer, not on the streets – it takes too much brainpower to ride on the streets), will normally tease out the problem. Switching to another project for a while can work, too.
Remarkably, being sick doesn’t affect my ability to write. In fact, it makes some parts of my brain go into creative overdrive, cranking out ideas faster than I can take advantage of them. Maybe it has something to do with being miserable. Suffering, so they say, builds character.
For those who suffer from the real deal, I recommend exercise, talking out your ideas with friends, and doing stream-of-consciousness writing. Remember, the only way to really be a writer is to write words. Lots of words. They don’t have to be good, they just have to be written. Making them good is what editing and revision is for.