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Thursday, 28 February 2008

Writer's Block? You're In Good Company!

There is nothing worse than staring at a blank page, fingers poised over the keyboard only to have it stare straight back at you. The most difficult sentence to formulate is the first. This is the one that will determine the course the piece. Even if you have a great idea, production is an entirely different matter.

Or perhaps inspiration is your problem. The enthusiasm is abundant but the spark is lacking. Maybe you fear the potential for producing poor quality work. Whatever the causes, they can all be addressed and overcome. I will cover sourcing inspiration and some other methods for beating writer's block in subsequent posts but today I will look at the first step which is recognition.

Writer's block is an age-old issue and scourge of the artist. The important thing to recognise is that this is not a personal failing. It does not mean that you are in any way lacking as a writer. In fact, you are in very good company. To demonstrate this, I have sourced some quotes from some of the finest and successful writers which I hope will provide some encouragement.


There is no iron that can enter the human heart with such stupefying effect, as a period placed at just the right moment. — Isaac Babel, from “Guy de Maupassant”

The hard part is getting to the top of page 1. — Tom Stoppard

The writer is one who, embarking upon a task, does not know what to do. — Donald Barthelme

I always do the first line well, but I have trouble doing the others. — Molière

The freedom to create is somehow linked with facility of access to those obscure regions below the conscious mind. — Loren Eiseley

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything. — Virginia Woolf

I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil. — Truman Capote

Easy reading is damn hard writing. — Nathaniel Hawthorne

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. — Gene Fowler

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. — EL Doctorow

How do I know what I think, until I see what I say. — WH Auden

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly: sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges. — Ernest Hemingway

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure. — Samuel Johnson

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. — Thomas Mann