As I type this, I’m struck by the irony that I’m writing about writer’s block, a ‘condition’ that’s basically about feeling unable to write. However, slight ironies aside, it’s a serious subject, and one that has many causes. It’s also something that has affected many, if not all, writers at some point, regardless of whether they are professionals or just amateurs.
In the last few months, it’s something that I’ve been experiencing. I’ve had it a various points before, that feeling of a lack of inspiration, of staring at the page or computer screen, almost willing the words to come out. Then, when they come, they are swiftly deleted or crossed out because they’re just a bit… well…meh.
However, recently, it has been more than just a lack of inspiration regarding a particular idea or part of a story. It has felt far deeper than that. To borrow an example from football, it’s like when a striker can’t score goals, when previously it looked so effortless. The player seems to miss even the simplest of chances, then turns to the sky or shakes their head, as if their talent is slipping through their fingers.
There have been days where, if not questioning my abilities exactly, I’ve looked at the cost of pursuing a career in filmmaking/screenwriting, and wondered if I have what it takes, if I’m embarking on a fool’s errand, as it were. Again, this isn’t uncommon to this line of work, especially for those who, like me, are just starting out. If you have bills to pay or a family to support on top of that, it can only add to the stress and the pressure.
As there are many reasons for writer’s block, from issues with the material itself, to the pressures of life, I think there are many strategies to overcome it, from setting deadlines, to altering writing times to just trying to write anything, in the hope it will get things going. However, all the advice I’ve seen involves effort and work, two inescapable things that a person needs if they are to make it in the creative arts.
That’s because you could have a brilliant idea, and the talent to match, but if you don’t want to put the hours in, then you definitely won’t make it. Of course, effort doesn’t necessarily mean you will automatically achieve your dream career in film, but it certainly won’t hinder your chances.
With writer’s block, I strongly believe that effort will pay off. It might take time, but there’s no avoiding it. In my case, I tried to remind myself of not only why I started the script, but more than that, why I set up 9am Films in the first place: to make films. To do something that I love doing, and have wanted to do for as long as I can remember.
I suppose I should close with a snappy but inspirational quotation or maxim that will hopefully inspire you. However, the truth is, nothing replaces effort, and, slowly if need be, working hard, until you reach a point when the words and the inspiration starts to flow again. When they do – and they will – it will all be worth it.