Does writer's block exist?

09 October 2014

The debate over the existence of writer's block all started with this article in the Telegraph about ways to cure it. There are some interesting suggestions and some tried and tested methods, from David Nicholls' use of the Write or Die software, where if you don't write fast enough your words are deleted, to Victor Hugo's getting his valet to hide all his clothes so he was unable to leave the house. A man's got to do what a man's got to do...

'But what if writer's block doesn't actually exist?' asked Nik_Vukoja, who wrote a post earlier this year proposing that it doesn't. But, the article goes on, it's true that every writer needs a break once in a while, so why not call it Writer's Break? It's got more of a positive ring to it after all.

With that, we opened it up to the Twitter-floor:

And the responses rushed in. Clearly some form of writer's block or writer's break was at play on this October day for everyone to reply so promptly...

What about Cormac's writing, we asked? 'I think his writing just reminds me why I want to write, and that makes me more likely to do so." said Fran.

This, from Picador poet Ian Duhig, caught our attention: 

Martin Bell's poem that Ian mentions leads us to a conclusion, albeit a conclusion that there is no conclusion. It's a brilliant piece of writing that captures the fist-clenching frustration of being stuck for an idea, a word, or a - argh... Yet in that moment of writing lies the paradox: in describing the sensation of writer's block, as he does so well, the obstruction is smashed out of your path. Here's the poem in full; Ian's blog post is well worth a read too.

A jewelled piece of furniture of hell, 
This block. An elaborate machine 
Of twisting gleaming parts 
Hewn from solid metal. 
Try Your teeth on that. 

Main photograph © Colin / flickr.com