REVIEW: “Going Through an Impasse: Evading Writer’s Block” by Eileen Gunn

Review of Eileen Gunn, “Going Through an Impasse: Evading Writer’s Block”, in Tod McCoy and M. Huw Evans, eds., Pocket Workshop: Essays on Living as a Writer (Hydra House Clarion West Writers Workshop, 2021): 137-146 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Gunn’s essay is one of the longer ones in the collection, appropriate given how big a feature writer’s block often is in a writer’s life! — in fact, one could probably put together an entire collection on advice on what to do when you want to write but just can’t. Gunn’s approach is to talk about how to deal with writer’s block, rather than how to “cure” it:

I’ll help you analyze the way you experience blocking and offer some suggestions on how to circumvent the trauma and get on with your work (p. 138).

This process of analysis ends up weirdly feeling like sitting in a therapist’s office, being asked questions that probe us and challenge us to answer honestly and emotionally. I suspect people will have varying degrees of success with this approach: my own experience, reading the essay while in the midst of a writer’s drought, was to feel strong resistance to her questions and suggestions, a refusal to engage — even when her suggestions are exactly the same suggestions that I give to other people! And perhaps that’s part of my problem. 🙂

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