Economist Stephen Kinsella talks about “Focus, Productivity, and the Lure of Twitter” with Freedom, and has this story about dealing with writer’s block:
I was working on an essay about transport economics and not getting on very well. I was sighing and making cups of tea and just generally not writing. My father, who was a taxi driver in Dublin, asked me what was wrong. I told him I thought I had writer’s block. He told me he didn’t get f****king taxi driver block and to get back to work. So I did, and I’ve never had it since.
I love this quote, partly for its strategic profanity, but also because it reflects a valuable sensibility: that writing is the product of work, not just inspiration. Sure, you can be inspired, and every writer lives for those moments when the ideas seem to come from somewhere outside yourself; but you don’t have to be in that exalted state to do good work.
Indeed, it’s more often the case that the reverse is true. Don’t treat inspiration as the signal to start writing. Treat writing as the trigger for inspiration. You’ll get more done, and be more inspired.