The Day Jack Suffered From Writer’s Block

They didn’t believe the day would come when Jack, captain of the mighty sailing ship “TheJackB” would succumb to writer’s block. It seemed virtually impossible that such a day would come.

It wasn’t just because he said it never happened but because they had never seen it happen. That crazy man could produce content at a ridiculous pace that made people wonder what the hell was going on with him.

Some whispered that he had made a deal with the devil and that in return for his soul he was granted immunity from the curse of the empty page. Others suggested that it wasn’t that at all. They said that Jack had gained the ire and enmity of a gypsy. They said the gypsy had laid multiple curses down upon him and that was why he was so restless.

They said that he ran four other blogs besides his main one and that he almost never slept. They said that some times people would find him passed out, face down upon his keyboard.

Some of those who claimed to know him best said that none of those things were true. They said many years before he had been the Dread Pirate Roberts and that he had sailed around the world.

300px Tarangini The Day Jack Suffered From Writers Block
The Indian barque Tarangini passing under the Newport Bridge — Narragansett Bay, RI, USA — folowed by the Prince William and Picton Castle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They said that in a time that once was and on an island that can’t be found he fought with the Shaman of the tribe that lived there. They said it wasn’t because he tried to plunder the riches of the island. They hadn’t stopped there to do more than find fresh water and pick some fruit.

The natives had attacked the crew, killing most and capturing many. Jack couldn’t let that go. He had an obligation to his crew and a reputation to uphold. No one took on the Dread Pirate Roberts with impunity.

So he led a daring rescue mission in which he saved many lives and created a deeper bond with the men who sailed with him. Those who came back described the final battle between Jack and the Shaman as having been the sort of tale that people wouldn’t believe. Even those who witnessed it wondered what was real and what was illusion.

They said that Jack wanted to spare the life of the Shaman but there was no way to do so without inviting severe risk to himself and the crew. Just before he died the Shaman screamed and flames shot from his eyes. They couldn’t understand what he was saying, but it was clear that it wasn’t a blessing.

Later on Jack refused to speak about the battle. All he would say was that there was a price to be paid for his actions and he was willing to pay it.

Stop Talking About Yourself In The Third Person

During the past couple of days I have written close to 6,000 words or so. The content has just been flowing from my fingertips and I am feeling a bit spent.

To be fair some of what I have been working on includes material that I had been saving for such an occasion so I didn’t create everything from scratch but I did spend a decent chunk of time trying to weave it all together into something that didn’t resemble a patchwork quilt.

One of the reasons I save my drafts is that I often find ways to use them later on. Here is a partial list of some of the posts that are sitting in my drafts folder:

  • It Is The Thought That Counts
  • What Are Your Priorities?
  • The Sins Of The Father
  • The Call Of The Hierophant
  • Three Generations of Men and A Movie
  • The Family Dinner
  • The Relationship Between Father’s Day, Marketers and Storytellers
  • Don’t Put The Cart Before The Horse
  • Meet Me In The Echoes Of The Future
  • A Ten Dollar Cup of Coffee
  • Where Is Your Focus?

I have a bunch of tricks that I use to keep my mind clear and my pencil sharp. These silly stories like the one above or the fictional battle at Starbucks are among my favorites. Those stories are fun to write because I don’t rely upon them to pay the bills.

They are what I use to stretch my writing muscles. It is like a warm up for me.

Sometimes I like to roll through the blog and read old posts and see if they inspire me. There isn’t any rhyme or reason to it, I just grab them and run. For example here are a bunch that I just stumbled onto again:

What Was The Point Of This Post?

Contrary to popular belief, not every post has to have a point. Sometimes it is fun to just write with reckless abandon and see where you end up. If it would make you feel better the point of this post was to share a few thoughts about writer’s block and how to deal with it.

I don’t suffer from it because I don’t believe in it. We can talk about it later, but if you train yourself to look at writing and the world in a different way you find it doesn’t exist.

That doesn’t mean that you will never question the quality of your work because you will. Every good writer has more than a few moments where they look at their content and wonder if a team of drunk monkeys could produce something better, but that is a topic for a different day.

What do you think?

Linked up with Dude Write Six.

 The Day Jack Suffered From Writers Block

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  • http://www.youngmanbrown.com/ YoungmanBrown

    I can especially relate to this post because I just wrote something about all of the drafts that I start and how they are really piling up.
     
    I will publish it when I get around to finishing it…

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @YoungmanBrown Come on man, finish that bad boy. Some of us are tired of waiting for it.

  • WantToBWriter

    The best cure for writers block is… well… writing. Anything. And you have done a fine job here as an example.
     
    Nice job!
     
    Michael A. Walker
    Defying Procrastination

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @WantToBWriter Hi Michael,
       
      Can’t beat it unless you play the game, right. I figure write, write and write some more. It gets easier.

  • http://www.shamefulpromotions.com/ workingdan

    Dan don’t suffer from writer’s blog. Dan would suffer from excessive idea syndrome. He has an abundance of brilliant writing swimming around in his head it makes it difficult to stay on topic because it all wants to spew forth at once.
     
    Unfortunately, Dan has very little time to sit down and write so many of his brilliant ideas fade away with time because he didn’t think to make a note of topic choices.

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @workingdan Dan might want to start taking notes, perhaps he could carry a Sharpie and post-its that he could use whenever an idea forms. Maybe he could write it down and then place the post-it on his sleeve. Could be quite effective, never know. 

  • http://www.hoohaablog.com/ P.J.

    I love writing with reckless abandonment sometimes. It’s a great way to just throw some thoughts into the wind and hope they stick somewhere.

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @P.J. It is a hell of a lot of fun. It is learning by doing and it can be very effective.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com/ Jens

    Hi Jack,

    I have been thinking about how you manage to come up with so many awesome articles and still be working and sleeping :)

    Do you write using one device and one program only, or do you write on everything ?

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @Jens 
      Hi Jens,
       
      I do 99% of my writing at the computer. I compose on the fly and just write with reckless abandon.
       
      However when the situation “requires” I sometimes compose on my phone or on a pad of paper. 
       
      One of the things I have going for me is that I don’t give in as easily as others do to the fear that my work isn’t good enough. Clearly there are posts that are good but there are more than a few that aren’t great.
       
      The thing to remember is that sometimes we can be harder on ourselves than our readers are. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push to do our best but sometimes what we think is inferior really isn’t.

  • JoeDeGiorgio

    Would “Writer’s Hesitance” be the same as writer’s block? Because it blocks me from publishing. The “oh shit, I don’t know if that’s good enough to go out there”….

    Just curious.

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @JoeDeGiorgio If it prevents you from pressing publish I would say yes. 

  • rdopping

    I am outside and it is starting to rain. Some of those monkeys are my friends.

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @rdopping A good monkey can make for a great friend, or so I have heard.

  • http://www.lostinidaho.me/ My Own Private Idaho

    I’m completely gleaning onto the wrong point here, but I think staving off writers block is as easy as referring to yourself in the third person.
     
    Brandon likes, and Brandon will try to keep on keepin on.

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @My Own Private Idaho 
       
      Jack thinks Brandon is on to something and Jack agrees.

  • http://itsmynd.com/ wilyguy

    Great post. I like me some rambling goodness now and again. I don’t believe in the writers block either. I also don’t have the pressure of a writers on to contend with.

    I keep lots of drafts as well, some a mere title, others with a framework. Sometimes I patch them into my Half-Vast Ideas series.

    I’m chuckling at the “HELLO, My name is Inigo, err Dread Pirate Roberts, you killed my father, err crew, prepare to die”

    WG

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @wilyguy 
       
      Drafts are really useful.I think of them as being like spare parts for my car. You never know when a part might break and you can simply swap out one for the other.
       
      The Princess Bride is a movie that amazes me for a million different reasons. There is something so cool about being able to use it as a touchstone for so many different people.
       
      Over time I have found that it serves as a good tool to determine if I will get along with people. If they like the movie we’re good, but if they don’t it is a good indication they have no sense of humor and are heartless. ;)
       
      Good to see you WG, hope your weekend was fun.

  • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com/ KDillabough

    I like reckless abandon and drunk monkeys:) Cheers! Kaarina

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @KDillabough Drunk monkeys can be dangerous, not that I know anything about that. ;)

  • http://www.bloggerfather.com/ BloggerFather

    I suffered (experienced is probably a better word) a writer’s block with my previous blog, so I stopped writing that blog. I just needed a direction and my blog now has a small enough focus to always make sure I have stuff to write about. And when the day comes when writing about fatherhood doesn’t make sense anymore, I’ll start my celebrity gossip blog!

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

      @BloggerFather You do a good job of putting out a steady stream of content. It is one of the things I appreciate about your blog, always something to read.
       
      But the celebrity gossip blog, now that could be fun. ;)

  • http://hajrakvetches.com/ Hajra

    I have writers block like every other day. Not because I have run out of ideas, but because I feel what I have written doesn’t make sense and go ahead and erase it and then re write and the cycle continues. I just need to believe much more in my work and go ahead with it; rather than revolving too much around the same issue… 

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @Hajra  I hear that same voice inside my head, the one that says what we write isn’t worth the time it takes to put it on paper.
      The best advice I have, unsolicited as it may be, is to ignore it. Sometimes you’ll come up with something fabulous and sometimes it will fall short. But writing does improve with practice and the more we do it the better we become.

  • http://www.lifeforinstance.com/ Lori

    Hi Jack.
    LOL: a team of drunk monkeys could produce something better.
    I don’t know if I’ve suffered from writer’s block and I didn’t believe for a second that you had! Sometimes I think I’ll run out of life topics. I mean, the big ones got covered in the firs 1.5 year, but then the next day I’ll draft out two or three. I think, like you, I’ll believe writer’s block is a figment of somebody’s imagination!
    Lori
     

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @Lori I think you will continue to find lots of topics to write/discuss. That is because Almost every one of them is something that could be broken into multiple pieces.
       
      Not to mention that sometimes life experiences impact our thoughts and ideas so it is sometimes worth revisiting a topic to see where people are at.

  • JayneMartin

    P.S.  I wrote a new piece of Five Sentence Fiction today and could not tell you how the particular topic of suicide showed up, but there is was.  

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @JayneMartin I understand that. When I wrote that piece about the secrets things just came up out of no where. Sometimes it just works that way, kind of fun.

  • JayneMartin

    Nora Ephron’s mother told her that “Everything is copy.”    And yet, for me, coming up with ideas has always been a struggle.   When I was writing for television, my agents would always be hammering on me to come up with ideas to pitch and I’d bloody myself in the attempt.   Lately, as I venture more into fiction, particularly flash fiction, I’m finding great success working from prompts and coming up with stories that surprise the hell out of me, as they’re all stories I never would have come up with otherwise.  Maybe that’s the secret:   Everything in life is a “prompt.”    I think I owe you many thousands of dollars I would have other wise spent on a therapists couch.   Thanks!  :)

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @JayneMartin I am glad I was able to help. ;) I am often surprised by how well the prompts work for me. I don’t know what it is or why, but they often send me into a new world and the words just flow for me.
       
      Flash fiction has become one of my favorite things to do. It is just a real pleasure.

  • http://judyleedunn.com/ JudyDunn

    Haha. “Not every post must have a point.” This is why the blogosphere is so rich and diverse. Some bloggers don’t want to bother with having a point, they think it restricts their freedom. Some readers are totally comfortable with posts without points. I love it that readers are attracted to different kinds of bloggers and different kinds of posts. Your readership here proves that there is room for both.
     
    I am sensitive to this because I am working with a writing coach now to develop the plot and scenes in my book. She likes to quote the brilliant southern writer Flannery O’Connor: “A story is a full action with a point.” I like that because I consider every post I write to be a story. And my coach is continually bringing me back as I write a scene, “What is the POINT of this scene?” It’s like “so what?”. Why should the reader care? It certainly is a different way of thinking for me.        : )
     
    I love the discussions here, Jack. The best part about blogging for me is hearing different perspectives.  Your place is a great venue for that.

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @JudyDunn 
       
      I do see value in asking those questions about anything we write. I am someone who chafes at restrictions. I don’t like being told what to do and sometimes my natural reaction is a desire to do the opposite just because I can.
       
      That is not always smart, wise nor useful so I try to temper it. It is a free flowing and dynamic environment here which works for me because it keeps it interesting. 
       
      I should add that although I say posts don’t have to have a point they still need to tell a story. They still need to hold the readers attention. If I write something that meanders about and covers a bunch of topics I still try to make it punchy.
       
      Hmm…does that mean I am straddling the fence?
       
      I am with you regarding these conversations. One of my dreams is to be part of a group of writers who spend time each day talking like this, except we would do quite a bit in person.

  • http://markharai.com/ Mark_Harai

    Good morning Jack, I left you a comment here: http://www.grotraffic.com/the-day-jack-suffered-from-writers-block/
     
    I thought it was the most effective way to share the idea with you : )

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @Mark_Harai Let me go check it out.

  • http://billdorman.me/ bdorman264

    Ah yes, the Starbucks story; that was a very enjoyable read, I remember it well. 
     
    My wife reads my posts mainly to make sure I’m not revealing too much. She has put her foot down about me writing about the ‘family’ and I have even had to remove a post. Now, when I did the iPhone vlog of ‘me’ she chastised me again. She said it was exhausting that I only write about ‘me’ or social. She probably has a point…………
     
    Therefore, and even though I don’t have as much in the ‘tank’ as you, I will be sensitive as I go forward and start spreading my wings a little more. I did a little stint with fiction and it was fun.
     
    However, I’m still in a holding pattern waiting for that lightning bolt to provide clarity and direction.
     
    Good post sir. 

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @bdorman264 
      I have had family members put the kibosh on topics too. Some things aren’t covered here because of that and I am ok with it.
       
      I do think it is harder for people who don’t participate online to understand what we are doing here and why, but that is how it goes.
       
      Time and experience have helped influence what I do here and how I do it. It didn’t happen overnight and my goals have shifted. But it has been one hell of a ride and quite fun. Hope you are enjoying your ride too, that is half the fun.

    • http://www.wonderoftech.com/ wonderoftech

      @bdorman264 Bill, Your vlog was great. It’s a lot of fun seeing you in action. You use yourself to illustrate points, right? Or am I thinking too deeply?

  • http://www.vidyasury.com/ Vidya Sury

    :-) Obviously I would never believe you’ll ever suffer Writer’s Block. What is this, by the way? I’ve come across this phrase, but never experienced it. Is it a bad thing? Good thing? ;-)
     
    I used to think I am the only one reading my own posts (Nobody can say I don’t have an audience, eh?). It is always interesting to go back a few years – and get reacquainted with the person who was. When I started my blog in 2003, I wrote like a telegraph, sometimes only one line. I did not bother about upper case-lower case letters and just babbled about whatever came to mind. I often continue to do that, except I like to think I do it better. Those days the thoughts were raw. Now I dress ‘em up a bit. But always – reading an old post WILL present me with many new ideas and I love that.
     
    I simply love the way you write.
     
    And who’s “they” by the way? The ones who thought all those things about you? :-) Hugs. You’re good, Jack. Very good.

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @Vidya Sury 
      Vidya,
       
      Sometimes I hate reading those old posts, not yours, mine. You know when you go back to the beginning and it is clear you were just slinging mud at the wall. When I look at those and see comments I wonder why anyone read them and why they came back again.
       
      But it is also nice to see the growth as we progress and to recognize that we continue to improve and get better at this. That is gratifying, don’t you think.
       
      Thank you for the kind words, I always appreciate it. Hope you are having a good one.

  • http://www.wonderoftech.com/ wonderoftech

    Wow, I figured you were a superhero. I may not be wrong on that.

    Two choices for writer’s block. First, take a break and wait for your muse to return. Second, slog on through, like running through caramel sauce.

    My writer’s block seems to hit in April, like the blossoms on a cherry tree. I choose option two and keep plugging away.

    So far you haven’t encountered writer’s block and that’s great. I hope you are never bitten by that beast.

    • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

       @wonderoftech 
      I always have wanted to be a superhero, but I don’t know if I can pull off the spandex. ;)
       
      Option number two works for me. It is ok to step away for a bit, but if you are on deadline you might not have the option to just walk. Sometimes slogging through helps to teach you how to work around and or through the challenges that come with writing.

      • http://www.wonderoftech.com/ wonderoftech

        @TheJackB True, Jack. Other than the Inquirer (and those posts are always fun), my deadlines are self-imposed. I agree with you about slogging through. Stepping away might just lead to bad habits, like only exercising when you’re in the mood.

        • http://www.thejackb.com/ TheJackB

           @wonderoftech  Exactly. There is something to be said for learning how to be disciplined about this. Not always easy, but…