Writer's Block, and Using Fresh Eyes

September 28, 2017

I've never been a believer in writer's block. I've heard the term used for over fifty years, and I think it's become a cliche. When I have students that use the term to explain a lack of productivity, I hit them with a piece of advice a favorite University professor, Dr. Glenn Sadler, gave me:

      "Put whatever it is that you're trying to write on the back burner. Let it simmer there, and start on something else. It won't be long until ideas start filtering into your subconscious. Have someone else read it. Maybe they can help get you on track again."

      Glenn was absolutely correct. Writers are sometimes obsessed with continuing a project even when they've run out of energy for the idea. Most writers I know have several projects going at the same time, and they tell me that when they return to the back burner projects, they see with fresh eyes.

      Once you put a project on hold, give it to another writer. We writers become bind to our own work after a while, and it's important to have outside counsel. Here is an example of how it works:

      I have a friend, Eli. We were in the MFA program together at Lindenwood University. I sent her a copy of a story I'd been writing called, Wax. It was a love story about a Vietnam vet who was single, lonely, and having no luck with woman. He decides to get his body waxed. Various scars are revealed during the process, reminding him of his war wound, and a bullying incident when he was youngster.  Strange idea, huh? Well, publisher after publisher rejected it. I gave it to Eli, who promptly diagnosed the problem. "You need to take out the sex." I did, and two days later, sold the story. Fresh eyes see what the writer can't.

      Hope this helps. Writer's block doesn't exist. It never did. It's like Sasquatch, Nessie, and Aliens. Rumors about them have been around for centuries, yet has anyone ever proved they're real?

      

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