The Problem of Writer's Jam

Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 9/27/2007

We have all heard of writer’s block, but have you ever experienced writer’s jam? I remember covering a section in a high school English class about how to handle writer’s block. As I recall, our teacher taught us how to use brainstorming to get past it. I am sure that is very good advice if you are prone to writer’s block, but I have never had to put it to use. I more frequently suffer from another condition that I will call writer’s jam.

Writer’s jam is not like apple jam or toe jam. It is more like a logjam or a traffic jam. Unlike writer’s block where the creative process is shut down, writer’s jam is a condition in which the writer becomes so overwhelmed with the creative process that it is difficult to write.

Let me give you an example. I was reading a blog post written by Kristin Billerbeck and I got into a little bit of a discussion with her and her readers about spousal abuse. I thought, that might be an interesting writing topic. Then as I thought about it, I began to think about the topic of rights and responsibility. I was thinking along the lines that a wife has the right to her husband’s love and he has the responsibility to love her. The two go together, but along the lines of the other topic I asked the question of what is the responsibility and what is the right when we consider the topic of a man’s leadership of his home. Then I saw an article about the role of our understanding of family in our understanding of God. Have you ever thought that the reason God hates divorce is because he wants us to demonstrate our security in Christ? Then, if that wasn’t enough, I was looking at the traffic on my website and I was fascinated by some of the searches people are doing and finding my site. There are some people searching for people’s names and finding the only reference that I made to that person on my site. I thought that would be an interesting topic to cover. I even considered being like Steve Hartman and asking people to vote for the one they liked best.

I am Timothy Fish and I have writer’s jam. I will be posting information about how you can start your own chapter of Writer’s Jam Anonymous sometime in the future. That will be after I run out of other topics. You will notice that I yet to write about any of those topics. Instead I chose to write about writer’s jam.

A Serious Problem

Writers jam can be a serious problem. Too much creativity is the cause. I know that seems impossible, but there really is such a thing. There are times when new ideas flow so quickly that it is impossible to give each the proper consideration they deserve. It is impossible to choose the best idea because there is always something else that takes its place.

In very bad cases, a person may spend all of his time considering every new idea rather than putting any of the ideas to work. He does not have time to write. He may start a project, but he will not finish it because there is another creative idea to take his attention. He may find himself writing lengthy articles about silly topics that are of no importance.

The Cure

There is no permanent cure for writer’s jam, but there are a few things that can help. Stop reading books and blogs. They only make it worse. You might think that anti-creative posters that say things like, “Think Inside the Box” and other similar anti-motivational sayings will help. The have the opposite affect. Instead, start reading all of the motivational posters you can find. Plaster your office with sayings like, “You can sour as high as your dreams will take you,” and “never give up,” or “winners endure to the end.” There is nothing that works better at sapping one’s will to create like a motivational poster.

If nothing else helps, just start writing about any old thing. It does not matter if it is important or not. You might even try righting an article about writer’s jam.