Skip to main content

It's Always Something: Writers Block

I have writers block. It happens every few years, and I don't think there's anything I can do about it except continue writing. Wait, before you think I just contradicted myself, give me a moment to explain something.

Writing is like anything else, the more you do it, the better you'll be (at least in theory!). I used to keep a 'journal of thought' at arms length, where I would scribble down ideas that would emerge from stray thoughts, dreams, conversations… I had to write these things down because they were always fleeting, like a partially obscured road sign on a speed trap.

I still practice this, to a limited degree. I have several new ideas gestating, but none of them have that spark, that inexplicable 'something' that compels me to write it down. There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you've conceived a new story idea, one that inspires you to quickly hammer out a synopsis, and then a script. I have a lot of ideas, but they very rarely inspire me.

Lately, I haven't even had ideas.

These days, I'm immersed in illustrating a script I wrote almost 3 years ago, Champion Of A Lost Universe. That comic is currently published online and in print. Sure, I'm introducing new story elements and dialogue changes to the comic, now that I'm actually drawing it. But that doesn't count, really. Last year, I did nothing but re-write and edit my script for an upcoming Image Comics mini-series, The Overman. I don't even consider that creative work per se, since I was acting more as my own editor, fixing various problems in a script that came to life nearly 20 years ago. It's a little scary to think that I haven't written anything new since late 2004. What's going on?

I don't blame the usual suspect: my personal life. Every writer knows there is always something in the world around us that threatens the creative process. I've learned to deal with life's stresses by plunging into my art or writing. Perhaps it's just something that happens to creative types once they hit their mid-thirties. Mid-life crisis? I honestly can't equate that, since I am convinced that my best work is ahead of me, and there are many writers out there who've already proven that for themselves. Maybe there is no explanation for it, and it's just a natural process that I'll get through, just as I got through it when it happened before. It's cyclic in nature. Some mysterious spring-cleaning is taking place between the creative synapses, clearing out room for… something new.

Scott Reed

Thank you for clearing up

Howard Tayler's picture

Thank you for clearing up something I've long been a proponent of: Writer's Block doesn't mean "I can't write." It means "I'm not writing what I'd like to be writing, and I don't know why."

Well... I guess some folks give up on writing ANYTHING when they can't figure out why they're not writing what they want to, and at that point yeah, writer's block means "zero words today."

If I find the flow of ideas stifled I usually just need a change of scenery, and often it's just for a few hours -- sometimes less, and rarely more than a day or two. I go shopping for groceries, hang out at the comics shop with friends, or take a long, hot bath and the ideas flow shortly thereafter.

Schlock Mercenary

I've certainly been there,

Scott Story's picture

I've certainly been there, and I don't have a decisive answer. For me, I usually take the time to learn a new medium, and that energises me for all my ongoing projects. Still, you are probably right--you've just got to wait it out.