Author Erica Orloff started a discussion on her blog earlier today with this quote:

There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write.
--Terry Pratchett

Thoughts? Is there such a thing as writer's block?

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Very well said, Timothy. I concur.
Yes. True.
Of course there's such a thing as writer's block! Forget about what it is internally for a moment--for my cause of writer's block may be different from yours, although I think we all share wasted time on websites as one cause--and consider the external evidence. Dashiell Hammett's last novel was 1934's The Thin Man. He was 40 years old that year. He lived until 1961 or another 27 years. There is concrete evidence he tried to continue writing novels, but didn't. All that he has to show for those final 27 years--outside of some non-credited assistance to Lillian Hellman's plays--is an incomplete non-mystery novel that is apparently so bad no bits of it have ever been published. That's prima facie evidence of writer's block. Ralph Ellison has a similar history.
Like athletes, I think writers have certain peak periods. It has nothing to do with writer's block, whatever that is. You shoot your wad, and then you're done. For Harper Lee, it was one book. Other writers have staying power for decades. Some contunue to publish past their prime, for one reason or another, and we see their pitiful work continue to crowd the shelves.

You can call it writer's block if you want to. The truth is, every well eventually runs dry.
Well if you don't know what writer's block is, Jude, then it becomes an easy task to say what it's not.

I think most people would agree that writer's block is trying and failing to produce.

This "shoot your wad" theory sounds rather mystical to me. Certainly more mystical than writer's block. ;)
True. I don't know what the Easter Bunny is, either. But it's easy to say what it's not:

Real. ;)
I'm inclined to blame the amount of drinking Hammett did for his lack of productivity. I know lots of writers have claimed they wrote better when drunk, but how drunk, and for how long?
He was sober for the last 12-13 years of his life. That doesn't mean he hadn't already destroyed one too many brain cells, of course.
One of the things I like about Elmore Leonardis how much better his writing got after he stopped drinking. I know a lot of musicians who say they play better high, too, but I'm not convinced...
I used to be a professional musician, and I knew musicians who thought they played better when high. Up to a point, they were right: they THOUGHT they were better. Probably because they were high. A drink or two may have lowered some inhibitions, but playing (writing) while impaired isn't likely to provide any better results than driving while impaired. It's just less dangerous.
I used to be a professional musician too (drums). I liked to play sober myself, but I knew plenty of players who thought they were better when high (on pot). I didn't discourage it, because they were such cantankerous assholes when they couldn't smoke a joint for one reason or know, I played better when they were high, LOL.
I agree on both points. I should have pointed out that he was sober late in his life. Unfortunately for him (and his readers), a gift is a fragile thing. Once abused, it may come back. Or not. No one can say in advance.


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