Another question I get asked fairly regularly is whether I suffer from writer’s block. As with many questions, there’s no simple answer.
I’ve never suffered from a shortage of creative ideas. Indeed, the ideas sometimes come so thick and fast that if I don’t jot them down quickly they get lost amid the swirl of competing thoughts – paid work, parenting, voluntary work, fitness, finances and so on.
On the other hand, the ideas aren’t always worth keeping. For every gem that comes along, there are probably a dozen that could be filed straight in the bin.
The closest I’ve come to writer’s block is when I am immersed in a story and waiting for a missing piece in the plot puzzle to fall into place. This can be very frustrating. Usually I’ll write around the gaping hole, knowing I’ll need to return and fill it in later – even though its eventual arrival could necessitate substantial rewriting of everything I’ve already done.
The other kind of writer’s blockage is even more insidious (and not restricted to writers). It’s something many of you may know as procrastination – when it suddenly becomes more attractive to hang out the washing, empty the dishwasher, update your iPod, weed the garden or do just about anything other than write.
A while back I read a quote by the uber-successful author Jodi Picoult that explained her thoughts on writer’s block. She said writing is “grunt work” and waiting for the muse is just making excuses. She starts writing at 5.30 am (YUK!) and makes sure she gets something written every day. As she says, you can edit bad writing but you can’t edit a blank page.
As for waiting, I spotted this sign in Kyoto, Japan where something has been lost in translation. Very polite. Very funny.