Writer’s Block Is A Myth- Lord Wilner’s Castle

Tower House of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness.

If you look real hard at the ruins of that castle you can see the ghostly image of my ancestor, MacDaniel Wilner, of the Clan Wilner.  Yep, that castle belongs to my family and one day soon I am going to claim it for my own.

One day the locals will ask what happened to Tower House of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness and find out that some Jewish kid from Encino has taken it over, rebuilt it from the ground up and turned it into a living museum.

Tevye spent his time dancing around a barn singing about what would happen if he became a rich man, but I am going to do more than sing, I am going to make it happen.

I am going to sell tickets to see the Loch Ness monster and offer the fine visitors a chance to take a ride on Nessie’s back. The secret of my success is that people love to lie to themselves.

Writer’s Block Doesn’t Exist

Writer’s Block doesn’t exist. It is a myth. It is the same lie we tell ourselves when we say we are only going to eat one slice of cake.

Some of you may disagree. I don’t have to “Google” the term to know there are going to be approximately 2,993,983 posts on how to cure it. I’ll guarantee that a portion of the cures they offer involve spending a couple of bucks on an ebook or some other electronic cure.

Maybe if my parents didn’t read my blog I might have the balls to try to sell you one too, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. That is because the way to cure a myth is to take a good look at it in daylight.

If we define Writer’s Block as being an inability to write because you don’t have any ideas than we have an easy diagnosis. You need to read more. You need to stop listening to the whispers of the internal editor that says your work isn’t good enough.

You need to sit down and write. Put pen to paper and just write.  Turn the keyboard on and start tapping.  That is the cure. It is that easy.

The River Will Burst Into Flames

I am not talking about the Cuyahoga River either. I am talking about your imagination because that it is your secret weapon.

And the way to stimulate your imagination is to read….a lot. Read the phone book, read the newspapers, read fiction. The more reading you do the more thoughts you’ll think and more ideas will begin to flow through your head.

Do it enough and you’ll begin to feel like your head is about to burst open. You’ll have so many things you want to write about you’ll find yourself facing a new challenge, but a good one.

Writing is a skill that  can be improved through practice and the only way to do it is to write.

I Never Worry About Writer’s Block

These aren’t just words to me. I believe what I say because I never worry about Writer’s Block. It took about 30 seconds to come up with story about the castle and MacDaniel Wilner.

My biggest challenge lies in turning off the voice of the internal editor. Sometimes I read my words and hate them because they don’t feel like they have the sort of rhythm and flow I want.

I usually compose my posts on the fly and do my writing right here at the keyboard. It is easy for me to pump out large volumes of content but sometimes those words feel wrong. So my challenge isn’t a lack of ideas at all.

It is trying to figure out if my internal editor is being reasonable or not. The goal isn’t to produce content that is good enough. I want more, but I also understand that we can’t always hit a home run.

The trick is trying to find that balance, but I never worry about Writer’s Block because Writer’s Block is as real as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster.

What do you think?

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20 Comments

  1. Pingback: Sometimes You Have To Prime The Pump - Joshua Wilner

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  3. Sandi Amorim October 30, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I like Seth Godin’s take on writer’s block, ie: if you can talk you can write 🙂

    • Josh October 30, 2012 at 10:15 am

      Seth is correct. It is an excuse we make for not producing. We can always write. The quality may not always be what we want, but we can always produce.

  4. Azara October 14, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Ditto the prior posters – and there’s the heart of the problem right there. It’s not that I can’t think of things to write about. It’s that I know my opinions aren’t original and I know someone else has presented the same thoughts in a more interesting way. I go through phases where I don’t want to write at all unless it’s going to be brilliant, which is obviously unrealistic. That’s when a stream of consciousness prompt can be a good kick-start, because it forces me to temporarily shut off the self-editor.

    • Josh October 18, 2012 at 8:53 am

      Hi Azara,

      My apologies for the late reply. I understand exactly what you are saying and encounter it myself sometimes.

      It is easy to let our internal editor dictate what we can or cannot write. However we know that people respond to different voices in different ways. No one is going to argue about whether Stephen King is successful or not, yet there are tons of people who don’t like his work.

      There is a place for all of us out here. That doesn’t mean we are all going to be successful, but there is a spot and all we have to do is have the confidence to take it.

  5. Waterfall October 13, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    This is a good way to look at it. Often I don’t know what I want to write about; at other times it seems I have too many ideas but not enough time to sit and write. (I have 3 little kids.) What I tend to forget is that, while on this blog I am writing my thoughts, writing my family and parenting blogs are also writing. It just flows easier because those are topics that come easily to me but other forms of writing take more effort.

    • Josh October 13, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      Hi Waterfall,

      I know what you are talking about. My kids have a knack for deciding they need to talk to me right about the time I decide to sit down and write.

      That is part of why I write every day- it helps provide discipline to write under any circumstances/situation.

  6. Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson October 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    “My biggest challenge lies in turning off the voice of the internal editor.”

    True that.

    Although sometimes, friends’ phone calls are mighty enticing distractions, too.

    Plus my family likes to eat so the grocery store interferes.

    That said, I love knowing that you are going to inherit that castle.

    I’d like to reserve a room in May 2017.

    (I’m here from #writeonedge.)

    • Josh October 13, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      Hi Renee,

      Yeah, rug rats, family and friends are exceptionally proficient in keeping us from putting pen to paper. Usually that is the kind of distraction worth having.

      I’ll make a note in the computer to save a nice room for you and your family.

  7. Tim Bonner October 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Hey Josh

    Loch Ness is only just up the road from me but I haven’t visited in ages!

    ‘Writer’s block’ now there’s an interesting one. I don’t so much have a block but I’m sometimes a little intimidated by other writers . I’ve not been blogging long and I think there’s so many people who could write about a subject so much better than me.

    So many subjects have already been covered to death as well, I sometimes struggle to decide what to write about because of a crisis of confidence!

    But then all of a sudden a light bulb appears above my head and I get some inspiration and then I just sit down and write. Even if something’s been covered before, it’s not been covered in my words so I shouldn’t really be intimidated.

    I’m just grateful that people turn up from time to time on my blog to read what I have to share!

    • Josh October 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm

      Hi Tim,

      My apologies for the delay in responding. Parental responsibilities got in the way, those pesky kids. 😉

      I suspect most of us encounter similar concerns about our ability and whether we have something of value to share.

      You are absolutely right about the value of you own voice. We are never going to be all things to all people and there is no doubt that sometimes people will respond to our voice and the way we explain/share things even if they have read something similar.

      It is a big part of why cars are all the same, yet different.

  8. Carolyn October 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I recognized that castle as soon as I opened this page. I have been there twice, so beautiful but I never saw Nessy.

    I’m not sure whether I agree with you or not. There are times where I’m in the zone and the words just flow. Other times writing is like running through caramel sauce. I just keep plodding along so I don’t get stuck in one place. For some reason April seems to be a struggle for me. I’m not sure why.

    Josh, does your writing always flow or do you struggle sometimes with putting words together?

    • Josh October 12, 2012 at 12:09 am

      Hi Carolyn,

      That is cool. Did you go while you were living in England? I have been to London, but really didn’t get around England much and never made it to Scotland.

      I don’t remember a time ever when I had Writer’s Block. I can always think of things to write about and topics I want to cover. My two biggest challenges are time and the moments where I don’t like the content I produce.

      This will sound obnoxious, but I know I am a good writer. Even when I am struggling to find my rhythm I know my work is better than many, but that doesn’t mean I am satisfied with it.

      It is part of why I write every day, I want to improve.

  9. Adrienne October 11, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I took a class a couple years ago Josh and the teacher was a writer. I had this notion that I wanted to write a book someday so her class was “how to write a book in two weeks or less”. The class was fabulous and boy did I learn a lot. One of the key things she said what there is no such thing as writers block. That’s what people tell themselves if they’re not in the mood or they can’t decide what to write about.

    These are just things people tell themselves but none of that is true. If you’re not in the mood then you’re not in the mood. You definitely can’t blame that on anything else. Not knowing what to write, again, something you tell yourself. It’s like when you want to remembers someone’s name. You KNOW their name, it’s on the tip of your tongue but it’s just not coming out. You’re thinking too hard but you know it. You walk off and start doing something else and then all of a sudden it comes to you. Same thing.

    Either way I now don’t call it writers block. I know what I’m going to write about, how to organize my words might be another issue but I know. Like you mentioned here, there are tons of different ways to get ideas so there is no such thing as writers block. It’s just a nice excuse we love to talk ourselves into.

    Nice!!!

    ~Adrienne

    • Josh October 12, 2012 at 12:05 am

      Hi Adrienne,

      We train ourselves to act, respond and behave in certain ways and “writer’s block” is a good example of that. There are certainly times when we may not want to write, but as you mention that is different from saying you don’t know what to write about.

      One of the reasons why people should practice writing daily is that it helps train us to write whenever and wherever we want to. If you aren’t a professional writer it might not be a skill that is needed, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

  10. Barrett Rossie October 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Joshua, I hear what you’re saying about your self-editor. For me it can be terribly unforgiving, or give me a pass on stuff that’s just awful.

    That’s fodder for a whole ‘nother post, huh?

    • Josh October 12, 2012 at 12:00 am

      Hi Barrett,

      That internal voice can be brutal. One of the best parts of blogging is the “instant” feedback. It is a useful tool that has demonstrated that my work isn’t always as bad as I think it might be.

      I suspect this would be a universal experience as we are often harder on ourselves than we need to be.

  11. Kaarina Dillabough October 11, 2012 at 5:23 am

    I find I don’t experience writer’s block, but I used to be a slave to the self-editor in me. My express purpose in starting my blog was to eliminate that self-editor. I’m happy to say that, at the 18 month mark of blogging: mission accomplished.

    I love to write. I write every day. But it’s not about finding a balance, because you know I don’t believe in that:) Life’s imbalanced: embrace it! Cheers! Kaarina

    • Josh October 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm

      Hi Kaarina,

      I am not surprised to hear any of this and I am happy for you. That internal editor can be a significant pain in the ass and shutting them up is a real victory.

      Did I ever tell you about how I wrote a post while standing on a balance beam or while riding a seesaw. I found balance there, does that mean you were wrong. 😉

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