Everyone has heard of writer’s block. And I don’t just mean other writers, I mean pretty much anyone you meet will likely have heard of the term.
A random thought occurred to me, though. Why writer’s block? Why do we never hear of painter’s block, or sculptor’s block, or trombonist’s block, or any of a number of other artistic blocks? Is this affliction unique to writers?
It seems it’s not. Looking into artistic blocks, creative people all over the place complain about dry spells, about lack of creativity, lack of inspiration. And there’s a lot of advice on how to deal with these ailments, and much of it has parallels with techniques I wrote about in Breaking the Block. So it seems it’s widespread, it just hasn’t got a name.
Except for writers.
So why writers, in particular?
I wonder if it has anything to do with another oddity about writing.
Least likely conversation to hear at a dinner party: “Oh, you’re a concert pianist! How interesting. I thought of doing that too, just haven’t got around to it yet.”
Substitute “writer” for “concert pianist” and it suddenly turns into a frequently-heard conversation. So many people admire the talent of painters and musicians because so many people happily profess to being useless at art, or tone deaf. And yet everyone seems to be a budding novelist, as if writing is the easiest thing in the world.
Now, all the creative arts acknowledge that practitioners go through rough patches, where output dries up. They acknowledge that creativity and capturing creativity in a tangible form is darned hard work, and it doesn’t always go smoothly. But along with that, in all the other arts learning the craft comes first. Claiming your musical creativity has dried up kinda lacks credibility if you’ve never played a note before in your life.
But writing is different. With so many people thinking it’s easy, that they can casually “give it a go”, they look for a reason when it turns out not to be so straightforward. So I wonder if writer’s block emerged as a fallback for people who tried, but got stuck. Because nobody can really admit to not being able to write, but they can say they are actually a writer, really, but the lack of output is because they are suffering from the dreaded writer’s block.
What do you think? Plausible? Or bunkum?