It’s common for people to quote urban myths, as if they were facts; especially if the myth seems to make sense.
One popular myth, spread by super smart Seth Godin among other highly respected authors, seems to make it’s way into most intelligent discussions about Writer’s Block. It goes like this:
Well, you don’t hear about plumbers getting Plumber’s Block, do you? They just get up every day and do it!
Plumbers DO get Plumber’s Block
Thanks to a recent series of water related challenges, I’ve met with 2 plumbers in the past week. I have always known the Plumber’s Block argument to be bogus, so I took the opportunity to ask both of them, if they ever got Plumber’s Block. I defined Plumber’s Block as a feeling that they simply can not do a plumbing related task, because they don’t know where to start or their brain can’t focus.
Both said YES!
It seems that (at least some) plumbers do occasionally get Plumber’s Block, particularly when faced with a complex, unique plumbing challenge. Both plumbers said they sometimes experienced what people from every profession do, when trying to solve a puzzle (including writers.)
They hit a mental block!
They explained that there are elements of their job, which they can do almost on auto-pilot, because they require zero creativity and they have repeated the exact same task thousands of times. This is the equivalent of a writer, writing their name and address. Writer’s don’t get Writer’s Block when it comes to auto-pilot writing, such as writing their address, just as Plumbers don’t get Plumber’s Block when doing one of their automated processes.
However, both writers and plumbers (and everyone else) occasionally hit a block when working on something unique, which requires creativity.
So, the next time you hear someone quoting the fact that plumbers don’t get Plumber’s Block, explain that everyone occasionally hits a block, when doing something unique or creative. To suggest otherwise might make for a good sound-bite, but it’s based on bullshit.