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(Semi) Memorable Quote: Writer’s Block vs Idea Block

Memorable Quote picI’ve often said that there’s no such thing as writer’s block; the problem is idea block. When I find myself frozen–whether I’m working on a brief passage in a novel or brainstorming about an entire book–it’s usually because I’m trying to shoehorn an idea into the passage or story where it has no place.

– Jeffery Deaver             


These memorable quotes I post here tend to be inspired by something I’m engaged in or dealing with as a writer. They serve as a mental nudge, a motivational push to keep me going or to muscle through a particular problem. Those that have helped I share hoping others may find them useful.

Today’s quote is of particular interest to me right now. I’ve written, rewritten, finished and submitted my first short story born of serious effort and thought [which I] deemed worthy of publication consideration. It was an idea that spent the better part of a year bouncing around in my brain. At random points during that year I sat down to write which in the end produced two usable sentences for the first paragraph. Eventually, my head twisted itself on straight and I delved into the story itself that actually grew out from the climatic scene I’d envisioned for those many months. One contest submission later, its rejection, a read through by from a former English teacher, the absorption of her advice and after an expanded rewrite it was sent out. They received it 3 days later. I just checked.

As a writer, I can’t lean back in my chair and wait the 3 to 5 months to hear back from them. As they say, “a writer writes…always”. Honestly, I think that quote became stuck in my head way back when, watching Billy Crystal in Throw Momma from the Train. In essence, the sentiment is correct. If you don’t write something at least, for me, every other day that creative edge begins to slip. I’ve felt it. This is why, once I returned to the blog after finishing the story, I’ve taken advantage of the daily prompt ideas WordPress writers offer up.

This brings me to today’s quote. I felt I was dealing with writer’s block. I’ve struggled to get a couple of new stories moving along. So in search of some motivational thoughts, or at the very least find some solace in that I am not the only one suffering at the moment. That was when I came across this Jeffery Deaver quote and while it lacked inspiration, it did make me think.

Was it writer’s block or idea block?

This has to be idea block. My creativity hasn’t left me. Like many of you reading this [I’m assuming there are many of you] I have scraps of paper scrawled with quick story ideas stuffed into a manila folder just to keep them together, or an ever-expanding list of story ideas wedged into a special place in your documents file on your computer. I have both. They’re simple ideas, vague plots awaiting development. And here lies the crux and this is where Deaver’s quote hit home, “I’m trying to shoehorn an idea into the passage or story where it has no place.

In working on these two stories, I actually put one aside to work on another, I feel more than anything else I am forcing them into existence. I’m trying to wring plot details out of them or I flesh out the beginnings which initially inspired the story idea, and they’re good starts, but then they fade. I don’t know where the story goes from there.

So here I find myself, once again writing another post to work through the problem. Am I simply stalling? Or am I doing my duty in keeping with Billy Crystal’s quote, to write always? A little of both I suspect.

So what do you think of Deaver’s quote? Is he right? How would you interpret it?

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