The Curse of Writer’s Block

  • July 23, 2012
  • Helen Murphy

Everyone that writes for a living has faced it. You get to work, look over your to-do list, open your computer, put fingers to keys… but nothing happens. The words don’t come. Your inspiration is gone. You have writer’s block.

On a busy workday, there are few things that suck more than having writer’s block. But fellow writers, take heart. I’ve conducted extensive research (1) and compiled a list of tried and true writer’s block cures (2) that you can take for a test run the next time you face this dreaded curse.

Ditch the clothes: When Victor Hugo was facing writer’s block, he would have his servant take away all his clothes for several hours, during which time he would only have access to pen and paper, thus forcing him to write. While the HR department would likely not approve of Hugo’s method, a modern-day equivalent would be to turn off your Internet for a bit. Seriously. No internet = no emails, no Twitter feeds, no videos of cute dancing puppies to distract you. It is just you and your Word document.

Uncork the muse: Ernest Hemingway may have been on to something with his famous quip, “Write drunk. Edit sober.” (3) A recent study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that alcohol provided a noted benefit to subjects’ creative processes when consumed in moderation. A glass of wine may be just the thing to send writer’s block packing, while keeping in mind the key word of “moderation.”

We have numerous methods here at INK to deal with writer’s block. Allison and I like a change of scenery when we can’t write. Sometimes it helps. Candice subscribes to the above-mentioned “uncorking the muse” method at home if writer’s block stumps her during the workday. When Blair has an idea floating around in her head that she can’t get on paper, she usually asks for help. Jess likes to put on her earphones, turn up her music and write anything that comes into her head.

If none of these methods work, it may be time to throw in the towel for the day and try again tomorrow.

(1) “Extensive research” = a couple of Google searches
(2) Cures not guaranteed
(3) I realize there are some arguments that Hemingway didn’t actually say this. For the purposes of this post, let’s pretend that he did