To All Science Fiction Writers – the End of your Writer’s Block is Nigh

Any person who has ever written has experienced writer’s block. If you were lucky, a good night’s sleep, a good book or talking with a friend might have got the writing muscles kicked back in. Maybe it was as brief as writing and re-writing a sentence that just continued to feel wrong and after nearing completion, it finally hit you. At some point, writers will get writer’s block. Death will happen. Pain will happen. Taxes will happen. But there is hope. You might be writing your dystopias and apocalyptic “end-times” stories by January 2022, about 22 months from now.
The unique nature of writer’s block comes from the reason for it and the thing that finally breaks the barrier. It would be safe to say that stress plays a major role in writer’s block. After all, to write, you need to engage multiple nervous systems and the distinct part of the brain which enables writing , whether it be fact or fiction. But when you are stressed, the sympathetic nervous system and the brain’s systems such as the amygdala and hippocampus are engaged, and this shuts down these key areas that allow a person to write. Fight, fright and flight systems, neurotransmitters, and hormones flood the body to mobilize into defensive and/or offensive behaviors. These are all wired in. This system is evolution’s key to human survival.
If you are lucky, the combination of exercise, meditation, work for distraction, learning for growth, communing with nature, and/or restructuring sleep and nutritional balance have all contributed to stress reduction, and pushed you through writer’s block.
Not for me. I am fortunate enough to have the time and resources to do all of these things that reduce stress, and still nothing. Nearly four years and hundreds of pages of ideas, stories, characters, and themes have come and gone without one idea sticking. And while I can’t speak for other genres, I find writing science fiction – dystopia, apocalypse, pandemics, racial discord, societal fragmentation, competing reconstructed realities, food shortages, economic disaster, police state and protesters, national crises and threat of nuclear war – now all appear to be reality-based and can be watched on a continuous news cycle, all day, every day. You can’t make this stuff up anymore.
Instead of writing science fiction, my time has been filled with stocking food and supplies, increased hours at the gym, heavy bag and gun range, home improvements that eliminate blind spots and reinforced entry points, clearing the line of sight outside obstructions, increased cleaning protocols and personal protection equipment, more motion detecting, solar-powered flood lights, and sheltering in place while working from home, twenty-four hours, seven days a week.
So, when will this siege end? When will it be safe enough to write about alternative realities without living in one? Here’s what I think – it will be safe for me in January 2022. By then, a) a year may have passed for whomever holds the executive office in the White House, b) there may be some treatments that work for Covid-19, and c) the economic sequelae of these shutdowns and business restructuring will be clearer. That is, also barring any new political unrest, natural disaster, or war that breaks out.
And for those who have a differing political and social outlook from me, my dawn of a new day will be their long day’s journey into night. They might see January 2022 as confirmation of a nation losing its way and an economic disaster and view the early days of the pandemic as the “good old days.” While I cannot see their perspective or understand their world view, I sure do know their pain and the stress of it all. I will feel bad for them, having gone through it myself. Maybe my science fiction writing will cheer them up.