When interviewed by LitHub, novelist Hari Kunzru — who was one of many authors reading at the “Stand with Salman” event this past Friday on the steps of New York’s Public Library — was asked how he gets around writer’s block. His first response is what many writers say (in essence get over it):
The thing with writer’s block is that it only exists if you make it a problem. If you want to write something, you write it. If you “can’t,” it’s usually because subconsciously you don’t actually want to…
But then Kunzru gets to the heart of the matter, which is what to do when you really can’t figure out a way to move forward:
If I sit down at my desk and find I can’t generate new text, I try to do the next most useful thing: revise something, make notes for another section, work on some other piece of writing, write administrative email etc. If I’m really not able to concentrate I go for a bike ride or clean the house. Soon enough I can get back to what I was “supposed” to be doing. I’ve worked as a writer since I was in my early twenties, and I have rarely had any other source of income, so the idea that if I don’t write, I don’t eat is very deeply engrained. It’s a good motivator. In a certain sense, I’ve never really had the luxury of getting blocked…
Maybe you can’t write the next paragraph of your novel. But you can do something. Forward movement is crucial.
One thought on “Writer’s Desk: Deflect and Keep Moving”
I love that thought. My problem is that for me, a lot of my writing doesn’t generate income, such as the work I do on my blog, or the newsletter I maintain. Even my traditionally-published novel isn’t a huge seller, which means I can’t rely on it for a living.
That makes me feel as though I have so many other useful things to do, like work. I guess that’s a block I need to get over. Anyway, thanks for this awesome quote!