Is Writer’s Block A Real Thing?

I saw an interesting image on Facebook this morning.

writers block

I’ve been chewing on it all day and decided maybe “The Block” is reserved for creative pursuits – creating something from nothing can go off the rails sometimes. Are Painter’s Block and Quilter’s Block a thing?

Allow me to offer my answer with a little story.

I was “blocked” for more than a year with my upcoming novel, The Seventh Seed. Or at least I thought I was…

What really happened was I wrote about a third of it and put chapters in my critique group as I went. One chapter needed significant rewrites, which happens. It doesn’t usually happen while still writing new material, however. I couldn’t decide if I should fix the broken chapter or keep on keeping on with the new stuff.

So I did neither. Instead, I stopped writing Seed and focused on Drake and the Fliers, a book I was closer to finishing.

Then, I got the rights back for the Project Renovatio trilogy and spent the next year getting those books published.

And Seed patiently waited on the back burner for me, even as I told it I wasn’t going to finish it.

Waiting GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

I felt better when I removed the “I should finish that” pressure from my brain. At least for a little while. My writing partners seemed kinda bummed when I told them.

I believed I was blocked with it. I’d stopped with a broken chapter after somewhere around 30,000 words. I had to fix that before moving on. The fact that it was out there, unfinished, nagged at me, especially when the other books were out and my plate was clean.

Brain: Now what?

Me: Well, I have these other ideas for new stories–

Brain: You never finished Seed, you know.

Me: …

Me: …

Me: Do I have to??

Brain: Not right now but you will eventually.

My brain knows me too well.

I couldn’t leave 30,000 words out in the literary abyss doing nothing. My characters were left hanging. And I remembered a couple of choice quotes I’d read over the years.



I wanted my book to be a book, not a brick in the road to unfinished manuscript hell. So, I opened the file, blew the dust off, and vowed to finish my shit.

I’m not gonna lie: it was hard to get rolling again. I started by reading through the old chapters, cleaning them up a little. Then I fixed the broken chapter. Then came the new stuff. I managed to get the remaining 50,000 words down in about three months (give or take a few weeks). But it was finished.

So what’s the take away here?

I was blocked, but I also had four convenient excuses (other books) for staying that way. Once The Seventh Seed was the only thing looking at me, I could break through the block. Until then, the motivation to get unblocked just wasn’t there.

For me, writer’s block was a matter of “not wanting to do it right now.” But that’s just me.

What’s your thought on the writer’s block quote? Do you think it’s a real thing?


20 thoughts on “Is Writer’s Block A Real Thing?

  1. I think writer’s block is a convenient phrase for “I don’t have anything new at the moment, so rather than let my brain relax and come up with something in its own good time, I’ll stress myself about it and worry myself into a blue funk that I feel I can never get out of, and then all I’m thinking about is something called writer’s block.”

    As for the times when you’re actually writing, I follow Hemingway’s advice to quit when you still have something to say, so that the next day you can jump right in to writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting idea that I’ve never heard before. It’s hard to argue that there are no other “blocks” for anything else. Really makes me think maybe it’s all a farce when I think I can’t come up with something. Distractions abound when I don’t feel I can get the words out. I’ve done similar to you, writing something that needed so much repair that I decided to just move on to other works. Which I feel is necessary at times, some stories just aren’t going anywhere. But it’s important to really know if you’re abandoning something because it’s just not worth the effort, or if you’re just too intimidated to actually work on it. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Cath Humphris and commented:
    I found this post on ‘writer’s block’, last week, and thought, could I better it? The answer being no, I’m offering you a useful anecdote that covers how it happened, the steps Allison Maruska took to overcome it, and the conclusion she drew from her experience.
    Even if you’ve never been blocked, I think it’s a useful reflection on some of the ways story-writing can work. Hope you find it useful too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Can also happen in reverse. You “decide” to scrap a story idea and start on a new one, but your brain keeps nagging, “no, you have other stuff to finish,” and you stare at the keyboard instead of writing.

    Prioritizing writing projects is difficult, and many times, making the decision of what to do next is harder than actually doing something. This happens to me a lot in many aspects of my life, where if I would make a decision, I would actually get both things done that I’m speculating about.

    That was part of the “seed” that pushed me to write that little motivational book of mine. Totally agree that “writers block” can show up as indecision. This is why I grant myself “writing time” where I have to be physically working on something, anything, and moving toward the finish, even if it’s a new story that I don’t have room on my plate for. Sometimes a little flash piece will put me in the right mindset to work on my other projects, so I can come back and edit the new piece before it gets old.

    Wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a couple of unfinished manuscripts lurking in my PC files. But I am working on two books right now, both of which have been hard going, requiring a lot of research. I find that, when I really want to make progress, it’s best to work whilst drinking that first cup of tea in the hour before breakfast. That way I know I can prevaricate for the rest of the day – but usually I’m so fired up that I can’t wait to get back to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Is writer’s block a real thing? Thoughts from Allison  | Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

  7. I would argue teachers block is a thing. When I am trying to figure out what to teach, whAt to leave out because they aren’t ready, What supplemental material to use so it’s interesting. I get teachers block. But I would also argue it’s another phrase for I don’t wanna. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

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