I listened to episode 16 of Writing Excuses, titled “Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.” The focus of the episode was discussing how to overcome inertia and get past writer’s block. I was already familiar with most of what they talked about, so I think I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have anything new for me.

Other episodes left me with a feeling of validation, like “oh, these guys know the problems I have,” or gave me new ideas, but this one left me wondering “was that it?” Writer’s Block is a phenomenon that’s pervasive enough to receive capital letters when discussed, but in my experience, it’s not all that different from trying to exercise regularly. Writing is the best cure for writer’s block.

Calling it writer’s block (notice I didn’t capitalize it this time) makes it an insurmountable obstacle, and one thing that can help you is to break it down into what’s preventing you from writing. The guys briefly touched on this in the episode, though there wasn’t anything really profound or conclusive to it. Why are you staring at the screen instead of writing? Do you want to do something else instead? Is writing worth it?

I did like how Writing Excuses compared writing to exercising, as that’s the same conclusion I reached after taking a year and a half of dance. “How do you force yourself to write?” turns out to have the same answer as the question, “How do you force yourself to exercise?” Simply put, by doing. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to keep it, you just have to do it. And keep doing it. Every day.

I think Brandon brought up the point (it’s been a little while, and I still have trouble telling their voices apart) one of the things that can motivate you to write is the feeling you get when you hold up a completed story and say “I did this.” When you have the finished manuscript in your hands, and it’s a solid, tangible thing, it’s something you can hold over your head and shout to the heavens, “I! Have! Made! Fire!”