Post: Famous authors weigh in on writer’s block

writer's block

If you’ve been active in the creative writing process for a significant length of time (perhaps longer than one year), you’ve no doubt encountered challenges in generating new ideas. You may have even experienced times when you sit staring at your computer screen for what feels like an eternity and not a single idea comes forth. That’s when you realize you’ve got it—the dreaded writer’s block!

Less experienced authors might go into full panic mode when they are hit with writer’s block. A more seasoned author, on the other hand, undoubtedly accepts the fact that “going blank” is a typical part of the writing process, and writer’s block is a temporary condition. This is not meant to minimize the struggle, however, as it can make a writer feel downright awful to want or need to write only to realize that the well of ideas has run dry. 

Encouragement from famous authors

Working through writer’s block is basically all about perspective. If you let it overpower you, it will. However, if you see it as an opportunity to take a break, clear your mind and welcome new ideas, you’ll find yourself writing again in no time. Consider these helpful comments from some of the world’s most prolific authors:

Jhumpa Lahiri: She has taught creative writing at Boston U and is a prolific author in her own right. One of her best-known novels is “The Namesake,” which many people believe is based on Lahiri’s life experiences. Regarding writer’s block, Lahiri has said that her go-to fix it for the problem is to take a break from writing and read, instead. 

Alexander McCall Smith: As both a legal scholar and fiction author, Smith says writer’s block is usually a symptom of an underlying condition, such as depression. Smith encourages writers to constantly exercise their minds and imaginations, which he says he does by traveling and observing the people and things around him. 

Ben Marcus: Marcus is a professor at Columbia University and a fiction author, including the controversial (some might say “disturbing”) novel, “The Flame Alphabet.” Professor Marcus believes that writer’s block stems from boredom and a tendency to write out of obligation instead of desire. He also says that many writers become “blocked” when they don’t really care about their project. 

One thing these authors seem to have in common is a strong belief that writer’s block is simply a normal part of the writing process that happens to most writers from time to time. Only you can determine how to navigate these “down” periods, and only you can figure out what works best to get ideas flowing again. Here’s an article with some great suggestions on how to work through writer’s block.