Malcolm Gladwell: just keep writing

As a writer, what do you do when you get stuck? Malcolm Gladwell says that the most important thing is to not quit. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay in the place where you’re stuck. Just work on something else. This part that you’re stuck on? Let it be incomplete or broken for now.

To get stuck and move to another part is not failure or defeat. It’s the process. Writers do not resolve all of the problems in their head — nobody is that smart. Problems will invariably get resolved. So have a little faith and just keep getting stuff down on the page.

I never react to being stuck by stopping. I react by — either I jump ahead, or I redo something, or I’ll write little pieces of an article without knowing where they fit.

The important thing is just to keep going. Because a lot of problems are resolved in the doing. The reason you get stuck, I think, in writer’s block is that you’re trying to imagine how to solve the problem at hand in your head — trying to work it all out and then put it down on paper. As opposed to understanding that no — put it down on paper and it will invariably work itself out.

The task of the successful writer is to lower the bar. You want to avoid areas of high difficulty. So a high difficulty task is having your story in your head before you write it. That’s too hard to do. You gotta be really smart to do that. I’m not smart enough. So why would I put myself in that position? Just start writing. And then work it out.

Malcolm Gladwell, from his course on Masterclass


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