Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Plumbing for Blocked Brains

Sue Hardy-Dawson

People often ask me do I ever get writer's block? Writer's block is something that happens to most writers at one time or another, even very famous ones. It means that however hard you try you just can't think of anything to write. But I can honestly say that I don’t suffer from it and I think that's because I don’t worry about what I write until after I’ve written it.

That might sound funny or even very silly, but I honestly believe that worrying is the reason most people freeze up. You see there’s so much to worry about. Is it good? What should I write? What will it be - a poem, a story...

Then there’s spelling to worry about. And punctuation. And forming legible letter shapes if writing doesn’t come easily to you (and it certainly doesn’t for me.) So once you’ve crammed your brain with all that - either you will write rubbish or you won’t dare write at all. So I don’t give any of it a thought.

Do I mean that everything I write is utterly brilliant and all without thinking? No, of course not and anyway half the fun is rediscovering something in all those scrawls and working on it until it becomes the finished poem. That’s the best bit I think, redrafting and shaping and improving.

So there you are. Don't worry about it. Just write. Anything! You can do the worrying later.


  1. I've had periods of not writing but it was more that I didn't really want to write, had no incentive, rather than being blocked. At the moment I'm writing and writing. One word leads to another, one poem leads to another etc.

  2. One thing leads to another. What with one thing and another. That's the thing. Maybe we should write to one another. And another thing...

  3. If I have something to write about, I don't usually have much trouble getting going and then maintaining momentum. But if there is nothing that's driving me, I think, why write? Funnily enough, a deadline or a commission always focuses my mind...

  4. I always thought a writers' block was some sort of tenement for writers.

  5. I typically let the topic jell in my mind first; collect facts and information, let it meet other memories and brain-detritus, then throw it on the wall like warm spaghetti to see what sticks.

    Works for me!

  6. I write a word (eg the name of an animal)in the middle of a piece of paper then see how many words/ideas come into my head to connect with it. The page usually ends up looking a mess, but I'll have lots of useful words to start my poem.