The Truth About Writer’s Block

A few days ago I tweeted, “Writer’s block is a time we are present to manage life’s demands – becoming stuck therein is altogether something else.” My tweet was calculated, as I’ve heard others, of the writing kind, complain of having writer’s block, or I have repeatedly read how other writer’s had found themselves waring against writer’s block. If I were not a writer, I might run scared from writing at the mere mention of writer’s block.

I must admit, I laughed aloud when I considered the scene in the movie Forrest Gump wherein Bubba begins to tell Forrest about shrimp, and all the ways that shrimp could be prepared. Bubba told Forrest, “Anyway like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. There’s shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That, that’s about it.” You may be laughing as I did, or you may be asking, “What’s Bubba’s shrimp pitch to Forrest have to do with writer’s block?” The simple answer is that there are as many, if not more, excuses for writer’s block, as there are ways to prepare shrimp.

This morning I had a conversation with someone that I have the most profound respect for, but with whom I sometimes disagree, and vice versa. I proffered that the problem with writing today is technology. And perhaps before I continue, I should acknowledge that I have always been referred to as the techno-geek of the family. I provided computers, printers, digital cameras, etc. to all but one member of my immediate family, and most, but not all, of the products, were hand me downs so I could stay in step with the growth of technology. The technology was the best toy I ever had, and while I will admit that life kept me at bay from my favored toy for reasons that I will not lapse into at this time; I am no longer the techno-geek I once was. However, being a writer today is also not the same as it was to be a writer from the Renaissance, Enlightenment, Victorian, Romantic Periods, the Transcendental Movement, or the Naturalism, Realism, Existentialism, and Modernism Periods. It’s not even the same as it was for the earlier Postmodernism writers; those that wrote before technology ruled our lives.

Thoreau walked through the woods and wrote, Hemingway traveled the globe and wrote. To “simplify” (pardon the pun) this blog post, I will limit myself to these two prominent writers. Can you picture Thoreau or Hemingway on social media? Would they have been the legendary writers they came to be if they maintained a Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Instagram and Pinterest account while working on their manuscripts too? Would Hemingway had won the Pulitzer in 1953 after writing The Old Man in the Sea, or the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 if he had been buried in social media? Both men were prolific writers who escaped social media, and while I do enjoy social media, I believe it distracts the writers of today, but then so does life. We live in a world today that many writers from earlier periods and movements likely never conceived of. We have spouses, partners, children, families, and friends that all require more substantial pieces of us, and pieces that are no longer simple pieces, as in centuries past.

Is writer’s block real or imagined? Writer’s block is most definitely real, but I do not believe writer’s block has anything to do with our creative juices seizing up; I think as I tweeted, “Writer’s block is a time we are present to manage life’s demands – becoming stuck therein is altogether something else.” Writer’s block, my friends, is the direct result of the demands and responsibilities of life. Our job, as writers, is to figure out how to manage the demands and responsibilities without checking out from the ones that love and need us to be present, while keeping the creative beings that we are from drying up. When you figure it out, please let me know how you did it.

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