Is Writer’s Block Real or Imaginary?
People talk about writer’s block all the time. It’s one of those phrases that everyone uses, whether they’re experienced SEO writers or just a person trying to caption an Instagram photo. Have you ever stopped to think about what this block that so adversely affects writers actually is? Are we talking about a tiny air bubble that gets in your brain right after a client demands an immediate rewrite, or is this a “dog ate my homework” kind of thing? It’s hard to pinpoint the reality behind this syndrome because people use the phrase to mean a lot of different things. I’m entirely unqualified to do this, but let’s psychoanalyze a bit, shall we?
Sort of Blocked
There’s no law against blaming writer’s block after 10 minutes of struggling to come up with a good opening sentence for a blog post. However, that pales in comparison to the poor writers who balance on the edge of sanity because they can’t figure out how to start chapter 20 of the novel they’ve been working on for a decade. If you’re trying to write an email and having a hard time thinking of a punchy subject line that will grab people’s attention, it’s probably just time to stop procrastinating and hit send. I declare this type of blockage to be imaginary.
Really, Really Struggling
At a certain point, this condition becomes more than just a mental misfire. Some people start to feel anxious when struggling to write, and that anxiety then feeds into itself. In many ways, the inability to push forward in your writing is the same as a panic attack; once you start to focus on your difficulties, all you can think about is the fact that you can’t write, and the problem just gets worse. My verdict is that this stage of the struggle is more real than imaginary, and it certainly feels that way to the person who’s experiencing it.
Even prolific writers like Ernest Hemingway and Barbara Kingsolver have talked about how excruciating the battle with writer’s block can be. The same is true of a lot of songwriters, who experience a very similar type of creative congestion. While it could be the result of a tired brain that’s struggling to find the perfect word, it can’t be ignored that the pressure to produce good content, whether it’s an article for a magazine or a song for a new album, can lead to oppressive and obstructive fear. Nerves and anxiety can have a profound effect on a person, and that’s why I’m going on record as saying this level of blockitude is legitimate. The word blockitude, on the other hand, is not.
According to me and my non-existent medical training, writer’s block can be real or fake. In the case of all my half-written screenplays, I believe it is very, very real. At any rate, whether it’s clinical or imaginary, it’s definitely an issue that every writer will encounter at some point. If you’re a writer/doctor and you’d like to weigh in on this study, please share your thoughts in the comments below!