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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By the way, I invite anyone who's feeling blocked to enter The Dickens Challenge -- write something by the seat of your pants and publish it as you write, putting up a chapter (or whatever small unit you work in) at a time. John Bishon from Crimespace and I are going to put up our first chapters on Monday, Mystery Dawg has volunteered to create a site for it, (although we're all going to publish on our own sites, too, and a bunch of other writers are joining in. It doesn't matter whether you start this week or next week, or whenever -- the challenge is to do what Dickens did which was (1) to write to a series of deadlines, and (2) to be committed to what he'd written earlier -- no going back and changing it.

I said in some post that it'll be like doing Nanowrimo in the window of Saks Fifth Avenue. And I personally think it's going to be a lot of fun,as writing really should be. If you want to learn more, there's a thread in this forum and a lot of dicussion on my site at -- go to the section called The Blog Cabin.
I love the idea. I’ll be sure to check out your site and contribute.

Nadja -- Very cool. I'm going to do an update blog on Friday, but there's a bunch of stuff there already.

You don't think it exists? Two words: Theodore Sturgeon.

Sturgeon is one of my favorite writers and arguably the best short story writer of the last century. Good Ol' Ted suffered LEGENDARY bouts of writers block. Years would go by and he couldnt write. There are huge gaps in his bibliography that act as a map of sorts for those periods.

I would also say that in my opinion one of the most touching anecdotes of the pulp/golden era is how Sturgeon was crippled by one of his legendary bouts of writers block and sent a letter to Robert Heinlein, who was a good friend of his, asking for a loan. Instead of giving his friend the money Heinlein, who outlined everything, without hesitation sent Sturgeon the outlines to 26 of his ideas. No legal contract, no rights transfer, just helping a friend out. Heinlein never brought this to light and didn’t publicize that fact at all and it was Sturgeon who, later in his career, brought this to light.

On a side note, if you google that quote you see it listed and mentioned on a lot of sites, but there isnt any attribution. Does anyone know where/when Pratchett said/wrote it.
For whatever reasons all those famous/successful authors stopped producing, there is for most of us the fear that we won't measure up with the next one -- and beyond that a panic that we will never have another useful idea.
So true. I think this touches on the irrationality of writer’s block.

I'm sad to say I've just had some bad news about Terry Pratchett via our friend and mentor, Sheila Finch.

Pratchett has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. He's not yet sixty years old.

Damn. Not a single thing funny about this.
When asked at a reading what he did about writer's block, Andrew Vachss said: "It doesn't exist. Writing is your work. Do you go to work and have a work block? No. You do it. It might not be your best work, but you can always go back and make it better. The job is to get the words down."

I've always tried to think of those words when I was 'tired' or 'blocked'.
Vachss is amazing, Todd. All that work he does as an attorney/advocate for abused kids, and still manages to write some of the best noir out there. He's one of my faves.
True that. It might sound silly to say at my age, but the guy is my hero.
Well, you can try that, but my experience has been that what results is the sort of thing that cannot be fixed and ends up wasting days and weeks before it is abandoned. However, I don't work from an outline. With an outline, you can certainly keep going.
I may have missed this in an earlier post, but if writing your way out of writer's block "ends up wasting days and weeks," what do you recommend?


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