Bestselling author Jodi Picoult says, “I don’t believe in writer’s block.” Interesting, as writer’s block is one of the most popular topics of conversation among writers online, and also among members of the non-writing world about writers. How many films have you seen with a blocked writer as the protagonist?
But Jodi is the author of eighteen books, the last five of which debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. So, she must know a little something about writing.
Here’s how Jodi explains her point of view: “Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
Eureka! You don’t have to be able to write well on a given day in order to write. You can write a bad page, and edit it later.
You may want to punch holes in that idea. “What if my writing goes completely off the rails?” you might ask. “Won’t that be a waste of time?”
In my experience, no. Even bad writing almost always moves your project forward. Learning what (and how) you don’t want to be writing can be as valuable as learning what (and how) you do want to write.
Jodi is suggesting a solution to writer’s block that you may intuitively know, but resist. The answer for writer’s block is to write. Badly, if you must. Just don’t leave the page blank. Then you can’t ever claim you’re blocked.