Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The Unsuccessful Treatment of a Case of “Writer's Block” (1974) [pdf] (nih.gov)
49 points by Tomte 14 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments

I thought the cure for writers block was to just write. It might not be good but just keep writing. There are many great writers who wrote every day no matter how they felt or how well they were writing that day. Action, apparently, tends to cure writer's block.

Ann Handley has some good insights on writer's block: https://annhandley.com/two-little-known-tools-to-help-you-ge...

Lol :)

Accidentally, I write for living (in my native language, not in English) and my experience is that some activities interfere with my ability to write.

One of them is making corrections in drafts of a book. Exhausting and text-oriented.

Another is programming, as if I had a limited pool of written characters per day. If I spend it on computer code, I cannot spend it on writing for humans.

As someone who stopped writing when he started coding, this is an interesting point. Is it the fact that both include typing or because both require extensive creative and mental energy?

On a related note, although I should be able to guess the answer based on your presence at HN of all places, do you enjoy programming?

My theory is that if you enjoy your work (not your job as such but just the act of creating something from nothing), this energy is spent on it and you have none left to write with.

How do you think we should balance this? I haven't written like I used to in 7 years, and 7 years ago, I began my career in software development. I used to write while working at a factory or in college. I'd write everyday, because while they used up my physical energy, neither spent my creativity or my passion.

I like programming in my spare time, but it was much more stressful as a career. Especially because I had to deal with some difficult personalities back then.

Spending mental energy wisely is a huge task. At 43, I am not sure if I have any good answers or tips.

Mason Currey has a book called "Daily Rituals" that gives two pages each to dozens of famous writers' and artists' daily routines throughout time. It's striking how similar they are.

The bulk: Wake up early, write/paint/do the creative thing for a few hours. Then spend the rest of the day taking walks, attending to mail, and the other nonsense.

The core message, similar to Pressfield's the War of Art, seems to be just sit down and do it, same time, same place, every day.

As an aside, we're building a creative writing tool specifically made to jump in when writing block hits and get you going again. https://sudowrite.com/ Sometimes you just need a little kick to get inspired and keep going.

As one who writes for a living, I've found that the 'cure' for writer's block is to start with a non-blank page. Since my writing is research based, this is usually pretty easy since you can start with a bunch of quotes or one-liner facts and things like that.

Goodness knows how creative writers prevent it!

Related, the advice I've heard is never to completely finish what you're writing when you stop for the day. Having some obvious things to dive right into when you come back to it makes it much easier to get warmed up again then e.g. finishing a chapter or section and having to start on a new one.

Same is true for coding I believe, it's nice to have some quick wins to get started with before trying to tackle something brand new.

When I was in the middle of creating the software stack for my company, I would inevitably get stuck with big issues or trapped trying to architect something decent that would scale. I was working out of my house at the time.

I had an old car in the shed that needed a fair bit of mechanical work. Every time I got stuck or needed inspiration, I'd get up from my desk, put on some gloves and get working on the car. Or go for a bike ride.

It really, genuinely worked for me. I just needed to park some of those issues for a while and do something completely unrelated.


Sometimes, that happens with comments too.

I mean...

you know...

(It took 3 hours for that)

with startups too

That's funny, it took me a minute

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact