Monday, May 15, 2023

Plans, Writing, and Life by Debra H. Goldstein

I don’t believe in writer’s block. To some authors, that’s akin to saying, “I don’t believe in God.” In my case, I’ll claim an affinity with the existence of the latter but hold true to my statement about writer’s block. To me, it isn’t that there are ideas and words flowing in an author’s head, but that life sometimes pushes them to the side.

It’s a matter of “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” The quote is often attributed to John Lennon as being from a “Beautiful Boy” lyric on his last album, Double Fantasy, but was found to have been said or written by other authors and philosophers much earlier. The key is not who uttered it first, but the meaning of the words. No matter how much one plans to write a certain number of words a day or complete a story in time for submission to a contest, the words often don’t get on paper or the computer screen because of life in general. It can be caring for a family member, a pipe bursting, flames coming out of the stove, or a friend needing a shoulder to lean on. The point is that the distraction becomes more important than the planned writing.

By the time one returns to the computer or pad and pen, life may have diluted one’s creative energy. The concepts aren’t blocked; they’re simply not good. The brain doesn’t have the spark necessary to keep the plot twists flowing. How many of you have found that when the tensions of life ease, everything comes into focus and becomes easier?

That’s how things work with me. As I relax, the words pour out – and some of them are even worth saving! How about you – tell me whether the result is seen in your writing, ability to read, or ???




  1. Yes, the stresses of real life definitely get in the way or reading and writing at times. Sometimes, I can still get something done, but other times, I've come to recognize that later is better for being productive, and when I give myself permission to relax, the result is more productivity another day.

  2. For me, creativity requires energy. When life saps energy, then creativity suffers. After I have found ways to regenergate energy, creativity returns.

  3. Definitely life gets in the way.

    Sometimes there's things in life that completely block off anything not needed to survive (think a demanding new baby--everything in the primary caretaker's life takes second seat to what is best for the baby. Essential needs are handled, of course, but anything not needed to actually survive may lose out.)

    That said, writing is such a "need" to many of us that we resume ASAP, even if what results is not great.

  4. You're going to have to expand on that flames shooting out of the oven statement!

    My biggest bugaboo used to be time. I worked a demanding 12-hour day and had the usual family and friends obligations. Creativity took a back seat. With the advent of COVID creativity returned, but I couldn't finish projects in the early days. Now that life has calmed to a certain extent, and the day job is a thing of the past, I'm feeling my way back to a writer's life.

  5. Such truth in this post, Debra, for me at least. I sometimes feel a deep resistance to writing, strangely enough. When I think about tackling a project, anxiety simmers in my chest. Usually, just pushing through it is enough. But sometimes, I need to address what else is going on in that chaotic brain of mine. It's nice when we can realize we're not alone.

  6. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Debra. I find when my energy (emotionally and otherwise) is depleted, good words on the page are hard to come by. I think that's why I'm most creative when I'm taking a drive on our quiet country roads--no pressure and my mind has time to wander.

  7. My grandmother's favorite quote has always been, "Life is what happens..." When the words don't come, I tend to work on "administrative things," like my website or promotion materials. Working on graphics to promote my work reminds me how proud I am of my accomplishments and inspires me to get back at it.