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AlbertJayNock

Writer's Block and Perfectionism

Writer's block is a common problem, and of course it is going to crop up during  NaBloPoMo. At first it's not clear why it's a problem.  What is so hard about writing words down?

There's nothing hard about writing words down, but  that's not the only difficulty. You don't want to write just any words down, and people don't want to call it writing if that's all you do. They need to be words that are about something. Thinking of a topic is difficult for some people, although it usually isn't for me.

Even if you are given a topic, or can easily think of one, you want to write well about that topic. The pressure to write well can be paralyzing. Writer's block ends up being a kind of perfectionism. You can think of it as a refusal to write anything that might be bad.

You should always be willing to write something bad.  GK Chesterton once said if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. His advice  should carry a lot of weight with any writer...he was quite a prolific author. He wrote some dreck to be sure, and he overdid it sometimes with the paradoxes, but in the end he produced a body of work that is impressive in both quantity and overall quality.

You can edit it later. "Get it written, then get it right" is often good advice. Even if you don't edit it, there can be benefits. I have the theory that sometimes you need to write bad stuff just to get it out of your system so you can write something good. It's like a cleanse.

The problem with finding a topic can be a form of perfectionism. Maybe what comes to mind may seem dull or unoriginal to you, but you might be surprised at what you do with it. For instance, I almost didn't make this entry because I wanted to avoid writing about writing.
But it's National Blog Posting Month. I have to use every topic I can think of.

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