Create a new kind of utensil. Functional or not, document it in use.
The utensil I created is not new in any way. It’s a pencil, and pencils have been around a long time. It’s also a stick. Sticks have been around longer than pencils. But this is a tricky stick, masquerading as a pencil. Its dark point is not lead or graphite, but merely a tattoo of permanent ink that won’t transfer to paper or any other surface.
For me, this faux pencil symbolizes writer’s block.
As a writer—and instructor of other writers—I often hear that people believe in Writer’s Block. They elevate this power to proper noun status: a force, beyond their control, that can stop the flow of ideas and words. It robs them of creativity and productivity. For some, it slows progress. For some, it halts progress. For too many, it prevents even trying at all.
I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think it’s an excuse. A cop-out. A get out of jail free card.
I do believe in frustration. Difficulty. Challenge. Procrastination. And, above all, FEAR.
Writer’s block is like blaming a faux pencil for your failure to get words on the page. If the yellow pencil doesn’t work, pick up the blue one. If pencil isn’t your thing, try ink. Or keyboard. Or dictation. If morning isn’t your time, try afternoon. Or evening. Or midnight. If you’re not ready to tell your own story, tell someone else’s. If you can’t invent a scene, describe what’s in front of you.
I believe in trying. Playing. Drafting. Ruminating. Experimenting. Spewing dreadful drafts onto the page, and worrying about the sense of it later.
I believe in writing.
And I believe blaming a dysfunctional pencil is an utter waste of time.