Beating Back Writer’s Block ~ Jack London’s View From the Keyboard

Last week the new students in the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago gathered for their orientations and welcoming events. So many bright faces, so many eager new writers. I am excited to get the chance to work with them this next year.

A question came up more than once: “How do you get over writer’s block?” This might be a subject for a longer post another time, but for now, advice from Jack London:

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Thanks, Jack. Well said.

→Coming soon, Megan Stielstra’s View From the Keyboard, and that of DA Kentner (KevaD) as well. Thanks for reading. -PMc←


8 Replies to “Beating Back Writer’s Block ~ Jack London’s View From the Keyboard”

  1. Funny you just blogged about this. I was thinking yesterday that I need to write an essay on writer’s block. In all of my pomp as an undergrad and grad student, I used to believe that writer’s block was just another phrase for lazy. I now KNOW that this is not the case. Some of our brightest writers have suffered blocks brought on by rejection, deadlines, depression, etc. It’s real and it must be one of the most frieghtening things a writer can face. But, in the end, it might actually teach us something if we listen: Life goes on without writing. Trite, but true.

    1. Hey, Lex,

      Of course you are right. To ignore the very real impediments to getting the words on the page would be short-sighted. To give in to them completely, though, is also a shame. Thanks for the comment, and let me know if you do write a longer piece on this. I would be very interested to read more. And thanks for the comment. We miss you in Chicago! -Patty

  2. It might sound quip, but I always answer that question but telling people that I don’t believe in writer’s block. Of course, the longer discussion has to do with how to feed yourself creatively. It’s a matter of gauging what we put out and what we put back in. It’s a personal ration and a personal recipe for each artists and I think a tremendous part of grad school should involve metacognition/reflections on that process for each student. But here I am rambling…back to my Texas studies. 🙂

  3. Absolutely. Frank Herbert had some good thoughts about this too. “I don’t worry about inspiration, or anything like that. It’s a matter of just sitting down and working. I have never had the problem of a writing block. I’ve heard about it. I’ve felt reluctant to write on some days, for whole weeks, or sometimes even longer. I’d much rather go fishing, for example, or go sharpen pencils, or go swimming, or what not. But, later, coming back and reading what I have produced, I am unable to detect the difference between what came easily and when I had to sit down and say, “Well, now it’s writing time and now I’ll write.” There’s no difference on paper between the two.”

    Hope your year is going well with those new students!

    1. Good addendum, here. Students are great this year; make my work very fulfilling. And by the way, consider contributing to View From the Keyboard. Looking over at Idlelore, I can see you would make a great contributor.

      1. Sorry for the delay in responding. Go to the View From the Keyboard Guidelines page (category on the right) and the details are all there. I look forward to your contribution!

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