Undine and I are revisiting old posts, and a lot of us are working on summer writing projects, and I like to start the day by reading something inspirational (and, okay, web-procrastinating a bit), so I read this old one of hers: http://notofgeneralinterest.blogspot.com/2009/03/writing-is-fun-starting-is-hard.html
The comment about not believing in “writer’s block” any more than in “carpenter’s block” struck me. Hard. Because some of my relations are carpenters, builders, and contractors, and they do run into such problems. Okay, they’re not “blocked” as in “unable to pick up a hammer.” If I said to one of them, at a not-working point, “Could you put together this bookshelf that fell apart when the movers knocked it around?” he could do it. But they do have periods when they’re faced with a set of materials, a space to fill, a type of thing that needs to go in that space, using those materials, being functional in such a way . . . .
That’s not blocking, that’s a design problem, you say.
So consider that the writer, too, may have a design problem. Or an organizational problem, or a significance problem, or an originality problem, or a perfectionist problem. All of these are solvable problems. Once we recognize that there is a solvable problem, we can find ways to solve it. Sometimes that means writing something else, or going about our business until something shakes loose, or staring at the blank page and thinking.
I’m reminded of Comrade PhysioProf’s process, which involves a lot of putting off writing while he thinks, and which he vigorously defends (you can find bits and pieces in the comments of some of the writing group threads, here and on other blogs, but I don’t want to take the time to find the bits now). It works for him. He recognizes when the back of the mind needs time to work.
So, if you’re blocked, don’t beat up on yourself. Think of it as carpenter’s block, as a design (or similar) problem, and think about how to solve that problem.