Television writer Nina Bargiel has got a few choice words for writer's block. She shares how "get it down on the page" and keep working.
One of the top three questions I'm asked when people find out I'm a writer is “How do you deal with writer's block?” (The other two are “Do you make any money?” and “No, really, what do you DO?”)
I have a simple answer: I don't.
A lot of us—me included—have this romantic ideal of the writer sitting at a cluttered desk (or Starbucks) with their laptop (or notebook), a mug of coffee (or coffee), waiting for inspiration to strike.
Cursed be, this writer's block that strangles my muse!
No. Just… no.
Writer’s block is a luxury, and it’s a luxury that a working writer cannot afford.
If you want a career in writing, then being a writer is your job. Most jobs require you to show up and put in our hours. “I’m not inspired” or “I’m blocked” is not an excuse for neglecting to show up for work.
If someone held a gun to your head and said, “Start typing, bub,” you'd start to type. Because when the options are write or death, writing isn't all that difficult a choice.
Would it be good? Probably not. And that’s the heart of it. Writer’s Block isn’t “I can’t write” but “I can’t write anything good.”
And here’s a secret that I will let you in on: it doesn’t have to be good.
You just have to get it down on the page. Get all of the terrible writing out of the way so you can make it good later.
Because that's what 99% of writing is: figuring out how to make it good later.
When someone is paying you, you can't have writer's block. Because missing deadlines means that they won't be paying you again. It's tough enough getting a paid writing gig. Don’t give them an excuse not to give you another one.
True confession time: do I write every day? No. But I work every day. Some days I work on brainstorming ideas, some days I do research, some days I outline and some days I sit down and write.
So stop using writer’s block as an excuse. Stop waiting for inspiration. Think about all of the writers out there: writers who are published, writers who have sold scripts. Writers who may be great writers or terrible writers but the one thing they have in common is that they finished whatever it was they were working on.
They don’t have writer’s block. And neither should you.
Nina Bargiel is a television writer and transmedia producer. She has been nominated for two Emmys, and has won an Environmental Media Award, two Kids' Choice Awards, and a Gracie Allen Award for her work on Lizzie McGuire. Nina is currently at the forefront of the interactive media field, working on series and specials like Valemont and Woke Up Dead. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Will, and their pit bull, Daisy J. Dog.