I have a love-hate relationship with the term “writer’s block.” Part of me likes it, because it makes for a convenient excuse. But another part of me doesn’t ever want to pawn off my own decisions or abilities on anything else–even a phrase.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the ability to write, or not to write. Then I realize it’s not really about ability. It’s about willingness. Willingness to sit down and force words onto the page when I’m not in the mood, or when they’re not flowing for me. I’ve never been one of those writers who says I must write every day, come hell or high water. I have been one of those writers who says today’s words kind of suck, and writing them was like pulling teeth, and that makes me want to take a break from it. Sometimes I do take a break. Other times, I grit my teeth and battle my way through the obstinacy.
What I’ve come to realize, at least for myself, is that there will always be days when writing is a struggle and nothing is easy, where there’s little or no joy in putting words on the page. On those days, I give myself permission to try and fail. Or to not try. To do something else, unrelated to my work in progress, so that my creative well can refill. But I don’t blame those days on writer’s block. I take responsibility for them, and for my productivity or lack thereof, and get on with life.
The day hasn’t arrived yet when I’ve forgotten how to write. The day has arrived where I’m low on motivation or creativity, or hate what I’m working on and don’t want that to translate to the page. My way of dealing with that might be different from yours. I do know writers who write regardless and to those wonderful people, I say congratulations! I’m envious.
But I also know myself, and know that I’ll make up for it. I’m competitive with myself that way. And if I ever give myself a hard daily word count goal, I will meet it (I haven’t met a NaNoWriMo I haven’t bested yet). Like any other creative endeavor, the personal oomph I need to get it done well can sometimes be elusive. Since I’m a big believer in self-care, I try not to be too hard on myself on those days. Even as I take responsibility for them. I know the focus will return, and personally I’ll feel all the better for not blaming my lack of productivity on someone or something else. Your mileage may vary!