Performance block?

In Uncategorized by farzanadoctor2 Comments

Do you get writers block? Published and unpublished writers speak with dread about this phenomenon. For some it can last for days or even for years.

I don’t really get it. It’s not that I haven’t had difficult writing days, where ideas chug along slower than a VIA train. And there have been weeks where I just haven’t really felt like writing. Little inspiration, lots of self-doubt, sluggish creativity.

But I don’t call this writer’s block. I consider it part of the ebb and flow of the writing process. Sometimes eight pages come out in one day, and other times it’s only eight sentences and four of those are crap. It’s just how it is.

When I first started writing, I snuck an hour here, thirty minutes there. It was a hobby begging time from the rest of my life. Over the years it has expanded so that it now gets more space than everything else. Perhaps because I took so long to get here, there just isn’t any time to be blocked.

Each month at the Brockton Writers Series I ask the writers to share an aspect of their writing process with the audience. This month I thought I’d get others’ take on this question, as well as what they do to prevent or get past a block. Here is some of what they said:

Sherry Isaac seemed on the same page insisting, “there’s no such thing. I just have to get out of my own damn way.” Emily Dunn also believes that writer’s block is not about writing, but the worry that you won’t be able to craft exactly what you need to say.

Gemma Merharchand says, “read, read, read” and Maria Pia Marchelletta chooses famous writers for inspiration. Carina Ramos does more research, soaking up information to use later.

Then there are those who take breaks. R.G. Thompson goes for a walk or run to escape his computer. Maurus Cappa goes to bed and as he falls asleep, new ideas are offered up to him. Jefferson Guzman gets bursts of creativity half-way through his smoke breaks, causing him to prematurely abandon his cigarettes.

Like me, Cassandra Cronenberg Hunter gets her work done by forcing herself to just sit down in her chair. I repeat the mantra aloud: “Ass in chair, Farzana. Ass in chair.”

Brandon Pitts scoffed at the question, asking: “do we face ‘performance block’ in any other area of work? No? So why then should we get writer’s block? Treat writing like a job!” He got a round of applause for that.

Writing is my job. Yeah, it’s my lower paying job, but it comes with goals, deadlines, performance appraisals, and regular work hours. Just like any other job, some days are more or less productive. On good days, my boss can be really nice, offering praise and the promise of a raise. On bad days, she can be terribly critical, a real schmuck, even. But what can you do? You’ve gotta make a living, right?


  1. Interesting post!

    I don’t write for a living, I write to escape what I do for a living, and when I hit that wall and just cant do it I turn it off, walk away, do something physical like go for a run, or eat pizza aerobically (ha ha ha), then go back at it with a new approach. Sometimes reading works also, though i find not enough of a sharp change most of the time.

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