Embracing the Block


It’s a tale as old as time. You want to write. You feel like writing. Maybe it’s an old idea you have in your notes. Perhaps it’s a draft you keep that has about 20 words in total. Maybe you even want to write new things, topics, and ideas. But then… nothing. Not a single word was written. No new ideas. No continuation of old ideas. Nothing. Frustrating, isn’t it? All the ideas and the lack thereof are swirling inside your head. It’s there and it’s not there at the same time, like a particular cat. According to the Austrian psychiatrist Edmund Bergler, this is what is called writer’s block. Well, that is what Wikipedia told me when I googled the term.

Depiction of writer’s block (The Passion of creation) by Leonid Pasternak (image taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Leonid_Pasternak_-_The_Passion_of_creation.jpg)

The block can happen to anyone. Students trying to work on their assignments, casual writers on platforms like this one, copywriters and creative workers, scriptwriters, full-time professional writers, and academics. No one is safe from the block. It can last hours, days, or even years. The severity can range from mild to debilitating. It could be especially severe if it’s how you pay bills and put food on the table. It’s important to note that when writer’s block happens, it’s usually caused by an affective/physiological, motivational, and cognitive element. To put it briefly and bluntly: It’s both a you problem and also not a you problem. Like that damn cat, again.

If you think that I have new and creative ways to combat writer’s block, you’ve come to the wrong story, I’m afraid. As the title suggests, I feel like writers should embrace the block. Perhaps the block is your mind’s way of telling you that you need to rest from trying to milk ideas out of it. Perhaps there are troubles in your life that you need to address to free your mind. Maybe, just maybe, you need to write about the block itself, either as personal writing that you will keep for yourself to remind you to take it easy, or as a way to let out your frustrations. This very writing is one such. I’ve been struggling to find new ideas or continue old drafts. Of course, everyone is different. I don’t want to be patronizing, making it seem like it’s an easy problem to solve. What I want to convey is there’s a way to get out of it. Sometimes, the “easiest” way to get out of it is just to tackle it head-on.

Thank you for reading, trust no one, and see you in the next post.



Patrick Aditya Sitanggang

I tend to write about once a month or every two months. Bear with me.