There's a famous anecdote about the way the Rolling Stones moved from being a cover band to writing original songs. According to legend, their manager locked Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in a room and told them they couldn't come out until they had written a song. They came up with "As Tears Go By."
And here's writer Nathan Bransford on his process:
"If I hit a stumbling block I force myself to stare at a blank page
until I figure out how to resolve it (or I don't figure it out, but the
staring time is still useful). ... I don't really have time for writers
block, and I really believe if you just stare at the screen long enough
you'll figure it out."
I'm not necessarily advocating that we
chain ourselves to our desks until we produce that novel we've been
dreaming about. But there are times in almost every writer's life when
we show up even though we'd rather not. We stay there more out of faith
or habit or sheer determination than inspiration. We wait out the dry
spell, or power through it.
Sometimes, writing is really
uncomfortable. I don't mean physically--although it can be that, too. I
mean that there are times when the brain seems filled with nothing but
tumbleweeds, blowing through an arid land. There are times when the
story looks hopeless. There are times when the characters are stuck,
frozen, refusing to come to life.
Sometimes the solution is to
leave the writing alone and go do something else for a while. But
eventually, we have to sit and face the story. To let the brain quiet
down or open up. Our path to the desk is not always full of prancing
unicorns and glitter. The creative juices sometimes trickle, rather than
flow. But that's just part of the deal. When the story comes out, we're