Life with Writer’s Block

It was comforting to read Tennessee Williams’ essay on writer’s block and its sibling, procrastination. (And how wonderful to discover any similarities with his writing!) He talks about stalling daily, about his collection of “the shortest, sharpest pencils” imaginable. Apparently he had the Block throughout his life.

Unfortunately, he didn’t share his techniques for getting around it. Over the years, I have employed several. I’ve self-parented:  not allowed myself to do X, Y, or Z until the day’s writing was done. I’ve reduced self-delusion by setting a daily page quota and keeping an “anti-cheat sheet” where I daily recorded how many pages I had completed. I’ve forbidden myself to change – or even re-read! – the previous day’s writing, and thus eliminated my tendency to rewrite incessantly in order to avoid facing a blank page screen.

My most successful technique was neither controlled nor intentional, however. I developed an overbooked life with only shards of time available in which to write. While I still squander plenty of time, write right now or write not has proved more persuasive than any of my other methods to get the words flowing.

“If you want something done, always ask the busy man.”*

I’m interested to hear how others have dealt with Block — and whether there are any writers out there who never have the problem? It’s a big world so I assume there must be at least a few writers who never experience writer’s block – but I’m guessing they are very much in the minority.

* an observation from Preston Sturges’ master comedy “The Palm Beach Story”.


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