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When I was a working scientist there were definitely days (on end?) of doing the 'routine' stuff, very different from the point where you have to stand back and make sense of all the data. Likewise, as a software developer, there were days for figuring out the 'clever stuff' and days for more mechanical exercises.So, how about a contrary proposition: plenty of other trades get "blocks" as well.
Yup. I think it's just writerly pretension, drawing upon generations of writerly pretension. Routine is (relatively) easy, doing something new takes time and effort, and the right frame of mind. Perhaps the other side of this writerly pretension is expecting to do something new, day after day, rather than having moments of insight from time to time amongst the routine.Everybody gets stuck, they just don't give a special name to it the way writers have done.
This. I'd say pretty much every enterprise that has an element of creation will have times when the person gets burnt out, loses motivation, finds it difficult to focus... etc.etc. Maybe all jobs. Look at pro athletes. A lot of them go through prolonged slumps from time to time. Athlete's block?I've spoken to several artists who say they too get some version of 'artist's block'. One was quite indignant - nearly angry, I'd say - that writers think this applies only to them.
I disagree, though I was never the best web developer in the world! There are different ways to approach some problems, and it can take creativity to find the best answer. I remember fixing one bit of code that sped a website up by a few seconds, so maybe the original developer hadn't been creative enough.Comparing programmers with writers is forced. The blocks in programming are generated by lack of knowledge, rather than creativity.
Oh yes. I still have memories (nightmares?) of tracing a bug that was effectively impossible to recreate outside of the live environment. The only way to do it was to effectively picture it in my head and work out what had to be happening when competing user activities collided.I could stare at a piece of code for ages until I figured out what was wrong with it.
I am actually not far from this hypothetical. A big part of my job is grant writing, press releases, and writing copy, so while I don't have to write, say, 1500 words a day, I do have to consistently write at a high level of quality. And, yeah, you find ways to work through the block, but sometimes, you know you are submitting garbage and you just have to roll with it for a bit to get the creative juices flowing. There are times where my boss comes into my office and says, "You and I both know this isn't your best work. You need to redo it before you send it to press." And then the second draft sends her into schoolgirlish delight as we rush it to print. What usually happens in between is a get up, go BS with a shop owner for a bit and get a gift card donated as a prize or secure a sponsorship while I am thinking through how I want to make that press release pop. The first draft is the "tell" version where I get straight my organization and details, and the second is the "show" version where I present the information as news and motivating to action, and crucially, the break remotivates me to attack the problem.The major difference of course is that when we slump, we can just stop doing it, and the athlete still has go to go work. If writers had to write, if we had decent paying jobs that depended on us writing 1500 words a day... I'm pretty sure we'd all get those words out and writer's block wouldn't be considered to exist in the same way. But there'd be a lot of days where we wrote total crap, and I think it'd be recognised that all writers had those periods.
So, what that boils down to seems to me to be, I saw an aesthetic challenge: "I looked in my toolbox and realized the shiny one hadn't ever been used. I wasn't writing something to impress anyone or to express my inner self, I wasn't writing because I need the money (ha!) from a sale to finance my food budget, I wasn't writing because I'm a writer and I have to write something (okay, well, maybe a little). I was writing because that's my playground, because a certain approach intrigued and excited me, so I had to try it."I find consideration of plot elements, character types, scene structure and such to be a good tool for identifying what I've done In a story and then forcing myself to do something different. For example, I recently realized that I'd never written a story with an unreliable narrator, so I sat down and wrote one. The choice of narrator shaped everything from the basic plot elements to character interactions and that forced me to write in a different way. It forced me to be more imaginative.