Illustration via Pixabay.

You Don’t Have Writer’s Block — You Just Think You Do

How I cured a friend’s writer’s block.

Randy Cassingham
Nov 26 · 2 min read

There’s no such thing as writer’s block.

A writer who “can’t write” simply has nothing to say and decides that they’re blocked. You probably think you do, so here’s how to figure out what you have to say and “unblock” yourself.

How I Cured A Friend’s Writer’s Block

I had a good friend from my prior day job at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (“Had” being a bummer: he died at 37).

He was a NASA engineer who loved to write and is the only writer I know who had been published quite a few times in magazines as a freelancer without ever getting a rejection.

Awesome.

But one day he told me he was “blocked” and hadn’t written anything for weeks, so I went to his house and asked if he’d like me to fix that for him.

He didn’t know what I was up to, but he wanted help and agreed to try my mysterious cure without questioning it.

I gave him an assignment: Sit your ass in front of your computer and start writing — right now! But here’s the key:

If he couldn’t think of anything to write, he should just type “I have nothing I want to say” over and over and over again, until he had something better than that to write.

I told him that I’d come back in half an hour, closed his office door, and walked away.

After a nice 30-minute chat with his wife I went back to see how he was doing, and he was pounding away on his keyboard.

“I’ll be out in a bit — I’m in the middle of something now!” he said without even looking up.

I’ll bet it took him less than a minute to realize he had something he’d rather write than “I have nothing I want to say” over and over.

He didn’t just discover writer’s block didn’t exist that day — he was never blocked again. And he sold the piece he wrote, keeping his streak of never getting a rejection slip to the day he died.

The next time you think you’ve got writer’s block, consider that really, you don’t. If you’re a “real” writer, no one can stop you from writing.

Randy Cassingham is the author of This is True, the longest-running entertainment feature on the Internet (weekly since early 1994).


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