Today I solved a problem that's been nagging me a while. It's a plot point in Mystery Project X--the story I haven't blogged about much lately but am still resolutely chipping away at and hope will someday be my next book or maybe webcomic if no one wants to publish it (that's its official subtitle, by the way).
Briefly and cryptically, I need a character to do X in location Y, then make his way to location Z. Everything hinges on this. But I could not for the life of me figure out how he could get him from Y to Z; if he's at Y when X happens, showing up later at Z should be impossible, or at least ridiculously complicated. Last night, lying in bed, I cracked it. All I have to do is move location Y 50 yards--do the same thing in a slightly different locale--and everything falls elegantly into place. It even makes the story better. It sounds silly, but I've been wrestling with this for weeks.
If you want to start an argument among writers, bring up writer's block. Charles Schulz famously said, "Writer's block is for amateurs." While I think that's a little uncharitable, I lean that way myself. Being a professional anything, including writer, means being able to buckle down and do the job well even when you don't feel like it. On the other hand, writers far better than I (and Schulz) have suffered from writer's block, sometimes so crippling they never wrote again.
I don't know. I'm not qualified to judge. Writing is supposed to be hard; if it wasn't hard, everyone would do it.* However, I'm pretty sure a lot of things are mistaken for writer's block: laziness, distraction, bad work habits, lack of confidence in yourself or your story. Even realizing you just don't enjoy writing as much as you used to and would rather do something else. Some might've labeled my little plot paralysis "writer's block," whereas I always thought of it as a puzzle I was pretty sure I could eventually solve. It's a subtle distinction--if I'd never solved the puzzle, then would it be writer's block? I think the difference is that solving tough puzzles seems like part of the writing process, while yielding to writer's block seems like foresaking it.