Treatment

You're blocked. What do you do? Well, I once had an inspiration that got me out of a block. I was feeling, This is crazy? Why torture yourself?

Life would be so much easier without writing. But I had a bit of perspective and realized that I was in the dumps and that it was no time to be making a serious decision (which means it wasn't a severe block). So, I said to myself, "I'm going to write until it gets good again, and if I still want to quit, I will." And that got me back, plugging away, not trying to be good. Not only did it get me back to work, but it felt like the solution to getting unblocked. So, I made a little sign and hung it on the wall I was facing. NEVER QUIT ON A BAD DAY, the sign read.

Now, the next time it was my turn to get blocked, I did. But now I had my sign, and I looked up at it. What do you think happened? Did it get me back to work the way it had the last time? Did I start writing instantly? Had I truly found the single key to unblocking myself? No. In fact, my reaction was more like, "Yeah, yeah. B.S. Not this time."

If only it were so easy. No, you have to tailor your remedy to each attack. As time passed, I made notations, other solutions, on my sign. "Never trust your emotions when they're negative," worked—once. "Everything that happens is right" was another. It reminded me that a writer is blocked because of the process and that it has nothing to do with his or her talent or anything else. That realization might work. It did for me a couple of times. But these are ideas—idea solutions. They're in the head. Just as you don't write or edit in your head, you rarely get unblocked in your head. No, you will never think or talk your way out of a block. To get unblocked you must do something. You must act. Just as action is what moves a story, taking action is what will move you back onto the page, which is where you need to go.

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