About this “there’s no such thing as writer’s block” thing

I get kind of pissed off when people say there’s no such thing as writer’s block.

People say “you don’t ever hear of plumber’s block, do you?”

And, “Writers write. If you’re a writer, write.”

Which, yeah.

I agree with that.

Writers write.

But not when they feel stuck.

But if you think about it carefully, doesn’t writers block really mean “feeling unable to write”?

And isn’t it a bit ridiculous to tell someone there is no such thing as the feeling they are feeling?

I think it is.

One of my coaches, Jessica Michaelson, says there are no rules governing our inner emotional sanctuaries.

We get to feel how we feel. We may chose to take action that is different than how we feel – like not throwing the baby out the window when he wont stop screaming ;) or choosing to write when we are not in the mood (which is not the same thing as feeling blocked by the way) – but we may still feel angry and at wit’s end, or grouchy and out of sorts, and that’s perfectly okay.

In fact, I’m not at all sure how it helps someone who feels blocked to invalidate how they are feeling.

I will say, however, that what worries me is how writers usually chose to deal with writer’s block, and what they make it mean in their heads.

Lots of writers who feel blocked just stop writing and flat out hide. Or go around complaining that they are blocked as if they have no ability to make any kind of change their own lives.

I get equally pissed off by people who don’t choose to take action to help themselves, even if it’s a matter of reaching out for help to someone like me, one of my Writer’s Circle coaches, or any of the other wonderful writing coaches and mentors out there in the world.

But there’s a reason why we don’t.

It’s shame.

Shame is what makes us hide and stop reporting our results or asking for help.

Shame makes us say “I should be writing.”

And, “But I can’t.”

And that’s the part of me that doesn’t get pissed off but instead wants to come sweeping over to your house and give you a big giant hug and tell you it’s all going to be okay. And then make you a cup of tea and talk, really talk, about what is going on inside that head of yours and help you make a real plan for how you will start to shift and change it, with me holding your hand every step of the way.

Writing is a lonely business.

Feeling blocked is even more so.

It’s not fair to compare it to a chronic illness or depression, but in some ways it’s just as soul crippling.

And as someone who is in the business of helping people honor their soul’s calling, it’s one of the challenges I most love helping you overcome.




  1. Thanks for your article, Jenna. I find it slightly irritating too when people tell me I’m not blocked…when clearly I am! I think sometimes they’re using it for shock value or it’s their way of saying “Don’t worry, it’s not that big of an obstacle!” but I’d really much prefer they say THAT instead of invalidating my experience! Thanks for putting words to that. Bless you Jenna! Thanks for all the good work you do on behalf of writers! :D

    • EXACTLY! What purpose does it serve to invalidate someone’s experience? I don’t get that at all. And you’re welcome. :)

  2. Mary Montanye says:

    I agree with what you’ve said here so eloquently, Jenna, and also with Kim’s comment. Writer’s block is soul crippling. I know as I’ve been there many times. And, as you’ve pointed out, it so often has to do with the voices in our heads–the blaming, shaming, ridiculing voices. Nothing helps quiet those voices down than a loving writer friend or coach who understands. And that is certainly who you are, Jenna, to so many.

    • Yes! It is soul-crippling. And it’s so smart to reach out to someone who can support you through it. Thank you, Mary. :)

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