Inspiration and Writer’s block

Inspiration is a funny thing. (How many posts have opened with this line? Probably too many)

Lots of people talk about it as though it’s nebulous and almost mystical, personally I don’t believe there’s that much special about it. I will admit it’s fickle (no, having an idea at 3 in the morning when I’m too tired to care does not help, dumb brain) but I’ve seen this used as an excuse, and I’m sure everyone has at some point. If you’re lucky inspiration will strike when you’re ready to write (or draw, act, whatever really) and the ideas will just flow and it can be a hell of a high. I think that’s where the idea that’s it’s something more magical comes from and that leads to the thought that without the magic moment, nothing can be done.

I reckon a lot of stories go unwritten because of this.

As it turns out, if you’ve written anything (or done anything creative really) you soon find that there is a lot of time where inspiration has taken a holiday, and carrying on feels like work. Because it is. But that’s not a bad thing, you can prod inspiration into working by just working through, stubbornly getting words down even if they’ re not very good(Related: if you like writing and haven’t tried Nanowrimo, go get an account and get ready, trust me on this). They can always be fixed later, after all, and you never know what you might trigger after a couple of hours of slogging.

This is related, in some way I think, to Writer’s Block. Which is something I’ve never suffered.

Yes, I can hear you laughing, just give me a sec.

There have been plenty of times when I’ve wanted to write and not been able to. I don’t attribute them to writer’s block because it never felt like a ‘block’. I’ve had plenty of lazy moments, tired moments or I just want to smash things in a game moments. But when I really focus on the task, I can always squeeze words out, no matter how stubborn they may be in coming. I’d guess the lack of inspiration can combine with whatever stresses a person is going through, leading to hopelessness and giving up on the writing, but again, I’ve never experienced it. But I could just be that stubborn

This is not, of course, the whole story. I asked Metalwings of Distantrealms for her opinion on this, and she pointed out something I hadn’t thought of. The block, I now suspect, can be as unique as the individual. What if, for example, the characters stop talking to you? They refuse to give up what they think, what they would say, how they’re feeling, so writing them feels wooden and just… wrong. In this case going back over everything about the character can induce the block to shift, but not always. Most of the time you have other characters as well, so you can just jump to someone else for a bit (Related 2, the Relatening: Scrivener is wonderful for this).

I’m sure there must be other ways words refuse to drop onto the page, but I will always recommend putting down whatever drivel is necessary to break through the block and fixing it later. Crappy metaphor time: It’s like tapping a well, you don’t drink until the water flows clear and cold, so you’ve got to keep chugging the crap out until it’s clear.

Wait, that was a simile. I think. Crap.

Have you experienced writers block? What was it like for you?


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