Writer's Block: Fact or Fiction?

COM021[1].jpg    A definition of Writer’s Block from Wikipedia:
Writer’s block is a phenomenon involving temporary loss of ability to continue writing, usually due to lack of inspiration or creativity.
I think I had true writer’s block only once. That was in 1991, when my twenty-year marriage came to a sudden, shocking and abrupt halt brought about by dastardly behavior on the part of my formerly delightful husband. I was working on FIRE AND RAIN. Suddenly, all I was able to write was really terrible, self-pitying poetry. That lasted several months. Then I fell in love again, which was better for the soul, but even worse for the writing, because all I could do was sit around with a goofy smile on my face. Eventually, I was back on an even emotional keel and FIRE AND RAIN was completed–late, but in fairly good form.
Since then, I’ve experienced many periods when I have trouble writing, but I think calling them “Writer’s Block” is a cop-out. We writers act as though we have the most grueling job on the face of the planet. Writing a novel takes some talent, some learned skills (how to string words together, structure a book, create fabulous characters) and a whole lot of “just doing it.” That’s one reason why I write a sh%##y first draft. Then it doesn’t matter how bad it is; the important thing is I’m writing.
The definition above implies that we need inspiration to write. I know many unpublished writers who write only when the inspiration strikes, and that’s fine if they want to stay unpubbed. But the mark of a professional writer is being able to write when uninspired. Some days that’s easier than others.
This little pep talk was more for me than for you. Every once in a while I need to remind myself how lucky I am to be a working writer. The laundry, the web-sudoku, the phone calls, the blogging and all other distractions can wait.
I’ve got work to do.


  1. Ann on March 16, 2007 at 1:21 am

    Diane, forget the sh%##y first drafts. Just know that NO ONE creates fabulous characters as well as you do! I remember some of your characters as I do old friends.

  2. Margo on March 16, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Writing everyday whether inspired or not is the mark of a dedicated, heartfelt person committed to herself, her art and her fans. You are an inspiration to all of us Diane, and the challenges you face are part of the journey. Now, on with your book…you go girlfriend!

  3. Diane Chamberlain on March 19, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks, you two.

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