“Writer’s Block Just Happens To People” Geoffrey V. Carter

Alicia Tookes
Professor Weaver
ENGL 1101
April 29th, 2019
Bad Ideas About Writing: Writer’s Block Just Happens to People (Geoffrey V. Carter)

The Bad Ideas About Writing essay chosen was “Writer’s Block Just Happens to People” by Geoffrey V. Carter. Writer’s block is not coming up with any ideas while writing a paper, therefore being stuck and blocked. The bad idea presented here is that people often look at writer’s block as a gateway to procrastination or not being creative enough. The author at the beginning of the essay also reveals that he thinks of writer’s block by the term “slacker.” “Whenever someone trying to write says that they are suffering from writer’s block, the first word that comes to my mind could be misunderstood as uncharitable: slacker.” (Carter, 105). A better idea he introduces is to write as much as you can and play around with words. “It all comes down to this: When faced with the process of creating something, rather than just giving up, writing about anything that comes to mind—even if it is just fooling around with words— can sometimes motivate real work.” (Carter, 109). Even if it seems silly, he argues that it will inspire a person to write about being silly. Preparing messy drafts is a better idea because the more effort put into practicing writing, the better the paper will come out. Writing whatever comes to mind and revising over and over will help give a sense of what to do next.

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For the “Further Reading” section, the author used this source “Writer’s Block: The Cognitive Dimension” by Mike Rose to write this essay. “For further reading on the history of writer’s block and how writing teachers have contended with this idea, see Mike Rose’s When a Writer Can’t Write (The Guilford Press), which offers a series of essays on overcoming writer’s block.” (Carter, 110).

What Rose said about writer’s block was similar to what Carter said, but with involving more science and psychology into it. “The few absolute rules low-blockers did possess were admirably functional-e.g., “When stuck, write!” As for plans, low-blockers seemed to compose with fluid, flexible strategies.” (Rose, 16). He defines a “low-blocker” as someone with low-level degrees of writer’s block. Another term he uses, “high-blockers,” is the opposite of a low-blocker. “High-blockers, on the other hand, simply did not express or imply many rules that embodied the above contextual flexibility.” (Rose, 71). He explains that when people tend to have a lack of strategy through their writing, it can create better and easier alternatives towards that writing. This idea may sound confusing at first, as a person may ask themselves, “If I am stuck, how could I write?”, But it worked when Rose conducted a study on a group of students who would call themselves high- or low- blockers. The low-blocker students tended to have the “I just want to get the words out” (Rose, 72) mindset, while the high-blocker students tended to focus on perfecting their papers, worrying how their papers should look, following grammar rules, and even reject pre-writing because “it ran counter to the honesty of immediate expression.” (Rose, 72).

Throughout his work, Rose references Edmund Bergler’s “Does Writer’s Block Even Exist?”. “But the most prolific of psycho-analytic theorists on writer’s block is Edmund Bergler. Bergler analyzed blocking in highly psychosexual terms, defining creative writing as an expression of unconscious defenses against oral-masochistic conflicts, and writer’s block as the result of the breakdown of those defenses.” (Rose, 13). Psychosexual is defined as one of Sigmund Freud’s development stages dealing with the unconscious sexual impulses. An example he gave with psychosexual drives involves a writer writing about a boy who experiences love at first sight at a party.

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During this scene, the writer has to describe how beautiful the girl, what color is her hair, and how the apartment looks to give the readers a sense of the description. However, when the writer asks himself, “How will this story end?”, The writer begins to become stumped. He then goes into a writing frenzy, introducing a new character: the girl’s grandmother and wondering how she could come into the story and for what purpose. No one knows or understands what’s going on in the writer’s mind, and he even gets into a conflict with his ego. “Under the weight of the poaches, the ego makes a counter-attack: “If it is possible to fall in love in a few seconds, why is it not possible to concoct a plot in the same short space of time?” (Bergler, 48).

Without the author analyzing his thought process, the story wouldn’t make any sense. As Bergler argues, “In any case, with the appearance of the inner defense, conscience seems to be checkmated. But it is only biding its time; the ego is allowed only a temporary triumph.” (Bergler, 48). This quote proves how the ego and the unconscious could appear in everyday lives and how they help give a sense of understanding of how a person thinks of something.

So in conclusion, all three authors mentioned here pretty much used the same argument and added their ways to explain a better idea. In general, a better idea to overcome writer’s block that the three authors would agree with the most is to look deeply into the mind, find some words, and experiment with them as best as possible to at least come up with some idea for the written assignment. No one’s mind is genuinely blank; there is at least something to keep the motivation moving. All that needs to be done is to notice that something, get a grip on it, and start preparing as many messy drafts and revisions as needed.

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Works Cited

Carter, Geoffrey V. “Writer’s Block Just Happens To People.” Bad Ideas About Writing. West Virginia University, 2017.

Rose, Mike. Writer’s Block : The Cognitive Dimension. Southern Illinois University Press, 2009. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=960319&site=ehost-live.

Bergler, Edmund. “Does ‘Writer’s Block’ Exist?” American Imago, vol. 7, no. 1, 1950, pp. 43–54. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/26301237.