Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Overcoming Writer’s Block

The finite lifespan of a car promises mechanics a job. But the morning never guarantees a new story for the writer.

Even the most accomplished authors can run out of ideas.

Samuel Coleridge’s diary is the earliest record we have of a writer who lost his mojo. At age 32, the poet writes “[…] so completely has a whole year passed with scarcely the fruits of a month. —O Sorrow and Shame … I have done nothing!”

Sam wrote first-rate poetry until one day in his twenties, all writing projects filled him with an “indescribable Terror.” The former poet then spent the rest of his life high on opium and weeping over his lost talent.

Sam was the first to publically suffer from writer’s block. But he wouldn’t be the last.

Many poets and artists of the late 1800s wrestled with writer’s block. Whereas the novelists of the time churned out material like factories.

Dickens, Hugo, Scott and Trollope all produced work without stopping.

Trollope worked a day job as the postoffice and wrote only 3 hours a day. But he squeezed out a minimum of 250 words every fifteen minutes. 

And if he finished a novel before the end of the session, he grabbed a new sheet of paper and began the next.

This method eventually earned Trollope 47 novels.

The difference between the artists and novelists?

The artists believed they had to wait for the inspiration of an invisible muse. The novelists simply showed up and went to work.

But the damage was done.

Even though no one knew of it before, the affliction of the 19th century lives on today as writer’s block.

A term hardly any other language shares.

Still, it’s true some authors stop writing long before they want to. While the reasons vary, the biggest culprit is fear.

Fear of the critic who says the new work is not as good as the last.

Regardless of what the morning brings us, we always wake up with a voice and the means to put it onto paper—who cares what the paper eventually says.

If you must, bomb to rid yourself of the crowd’s expectations. You can always win them over later.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach