First-Time Writer’s Block

I’ve been writing seriously since 1966 and this is the first time I’ve ever experienced writer’s block. It’s a scary, unsettling feeling. I go days and weeks where I cannot write at all, and others when I write and hate everything I’ve written.

In the past, I have often felt more as if I were taking dictation from my subconscious than inventing something new. The sentences flowed, one after another, until I got to the end (of my energy or time). Then I stopped for sleep or supper or to spend some time engaged with my husband and friends. The next day I picked up where I had left off and simply continued.

Last night my husband and I watched a documentary about author Tim O’Brien, National Book Award Winner (Going after Cacciato), best known for his Vietnam antiwar books. He and his wife each discussed his periods of writer’s block. At the time of the filming, he had not published anything for 15 years (gasp!). He sat at his desk every day, his wife said. His goal was to produce two pages, but some days he produced nothing. He filled his waste paper basket, he said, with rejected pages. A year later, he finished writing the autobiography he wanted to create for his two young sons.

I was heartening to realize that writers I admire have had–and overcome–debilitating blocks in creativity. I will work through this and come out on the other side. I’ll write every day until my internal writer speaks to me once more and I begin to take dictation again.