Writer's block

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Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years. Throughout history, writer's block has been a documented problem.


  • I’ve realized over the years that, with rare exceptions, most writer’s block isn’t writer’s block at all: It’s necessary time that allows the unconscious mind to do its deep work. The great “Ah-Ha!” moments don’t usually come at the keyboard. They come when I’m lying on the floor, staring into space (or banging my head against the wall in frustration). All of a sudden the Unconscious Camera turns on, a movie starts playing in my head-and there it is: The Big Moment. Or the Whole Damn Story. And, in many ways, I had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
    • J. M. DeMatteis, in A Conversation With The Legendary J.M. DeMatteis! (2004).
  • He had writer's block once. It was the worst ten minutes of his life.
    • Harlan Ellison, about Isaac Asimov – quoted in Page Fright : Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers (2009) by Harry Bruce
    • Variant: Most writers hate to write, and will grasp any excuse to do something else … There are exceptions. Isaac Asimov actually was never happier than sitting at a keyboard — first, his old typewriter; then, the TRS-80; and later, a more conventional PC. But then, Isaac was unusual, and his experience with writer's block was the worst 10 minutes of his life.
      • Jerry Pournelle, in "Chaos Manor: Is there an Upgrade in your future?" in Dr. Dobb's Journal : Software Tools For The Professional Programmer (2005), Vol. 30, Issues 374-379, p. 9.
  • The imagination only becomes becalmed if and when your tale has sailed you into lifeless waters, and you are too stubborn to throw pages away and start over. If your imagination is going into rebellion against you, start throwing pages of the manuscript away, starting with the most recent and moving backward. At a certain point, you will discover the writing block has vanished. Writer's block is your muse's way of telling you that your tale is going wrong. Listen to the muse and try a different approach.

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