META: Neil Gaiman on writer's block

Adrian J. McClure mrfantastic7 at
Thu Mar 8 19:26:50 PST 2012

Someone asked Neil Gaiman how to get over her writers' block on
Tumblr, and this was his response:

You turn off your inner critic. You do not listen to your inner police
force. You ignore the little voices that tell you that it’s all
stupid, and you keep going.

Your grade isn’t suffering because your writing is bad, it’s suffering
because you aren’t finishing things and handing them in.

So, finish them and hand them in. Even if a story’s lousy, you’ll
learn something from it that will be useful as a writer, even if it’s
just “don’t do that again”.

You’re always going to be dissatisfied with what you write. That’s
part of being human. In our heads, stories are perfect, flawless,
glittering, magical. Then we start to put them down on paper, one
unsatisfactory word at a time. And each time our inner critics tell us
that it’s a rotten idea and we should abandon it.

If you’re going to write, ignore your inner critic, while you’re
writing. Do whatever you can to finish. Know that anything can be
fixed later.

Remember: you don’t have to be brilliant when you start out. You just
have to write. Every story you finish puts you closer to being a
writer, and makes you a better writer.

Blaming “Writer’s Block” is wonderful. It removes any responsibility
from the person with the “block”. It gives you something to blame, and
it sounds fancy.

But it’s probably more honest to think of it as a combination of
laziness, perfectionism and Getting Stuck. If you’re being lazy, don’t
be. If you’re being a perfectionist, don’t be. And if you’re stuck,
figure out where the story went off the rails, or what you got wrong,
or where you need to go deeper, or what you need to add to make it
work, and then start writing again.

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