Actually we do, all the time
So this is interesting, because I agree with your conclusion that writer's block is a figment of our imagination (I could write a whole book about this--and I just might at some point LOL) but I did not get there through the same thought process, nor do I fully agree with your arguments.
I mean, sure, you don't *have* to write everyday. What's important, as we've discussed before, is consistency. So whether you write 10 minutes a day or 2 hours per week, that's fine, so long as you stick with it.
But here's the thing, having a routine (whether it's a daily or weekly one) is in my mind totally separate from those moments of daydreaming. In fact, I made it a point early on to have "writing hours" during which I do nothing else but write. However, I don't write 12 hours a day. So there's still plenty more time during the day to do some daydreaming.
Maybe it's just me, but my mind is always (or almost always) working and thinking about my current project. I don't have a car, so maybe that helps LOL, as I'll think about an upcoming scene while I walk to the grocery store, for instance. Or in between writing sessions. Or, like you, while I cook. Etc.
I realize that folks with a day job (I'm a full time writer) might not always have this luxury. But I'd argue that it comes down to scheduling. Just like you should put time aside for writing, you should work out what are the best moments for you to do some actual thinking. I mean, you can't actually schedule that stuff, but what you *can* do is figure out what types of activities do not need your full attention and could allow your mind to wander off (walking, cooking, etc.) and then stick by it. You'll be amazed the number of opportunities that will pop up, even if you have a day job (during work breaks, while you're commuting if you use public transportation, etc.)
Honestly, I wouldn't recommend using writing time to do your thinking. The problem with that approach is that it'd make it way too easy to slip into not writing for X time and use "oh I was thinking of my project" as an excuse (instead of the more typical "I can't find time to write.")
If you're blocked on a story, try doing an outline. If that doesn't work, there's likely some issue in your concept. To get unstuck, just switch to a different project--maybe write a short story. Incidentally, this is why I don't believe in writer's block. It's always connected to one specific project. But authors tend to remain focused on that one and to force themselves to write it... and so they stay frozen in front of a blank page. Just move on. Let that project rest, and at some point you'll find a way to tame it. Just don't let *one* project stop you from writing.
Yes, yes, YES! when it comes to word counts. I always suggest that people sit down to write for a certain amount of time rather than a certain word count. Because as you say, there are good writing days and not-so-good writing days. If I sit down to write for an hour and things aren't working and I only get 100 words, that's okay if I put in the honest effort. But if I'm trying to get to 1,000 words per session and it's not working, either I'm spending waaaay too long chipping away at it or I go away feeling like a failure. Neither result is good for the ego -- or creativity. Best as you say to walk away to write another day.
We seem to have very similar ideas on writer's block, too. I'm not a big fan of the term either, but it is a (sometimes) useful shorthand to describe some of the many things going on that you touched upon: imposter syndrome, fear, and more.
My whole SubStack newsletter is dedicated to unpacking all of these issues. It's based on a workshop I present about writing -- I'll be addressing many issues including what you call "real writing" here (I call it "serious writing" -- but we mean the same thing...!) The core belief of both the workshop and the newsletter is that writing should be fun. That's what writing with wild abandon is all about.
Great advice here Simon!
I don’t believe in writers block, per se. I do believe that we get in the way of our writing. We overthink it, we fear it, we struggle to get past difficult parts, we try to do too much… There are so many things they can happen to a writer, sometimes all at once! But I’ve found that if you sit in front of a blank computer screen or piece of paper and just start writing words, even if they’re just “I don’t want to write today. This is stupid. Why am I doing this to myself?“ etc., eventually real words do come. It may not be a 5000 were day or whatever, but I believe anybody who wants to write can get past the “block” by writing through it, even if has to start with garbage.
I agree. Just because you are not putting words on a page doesn’t mean you are being unproductive. We need time to ponder, imagine, work on outlines, figure out plot lines, etc. I go days without writing.
I think “writer challenges” and daily commitments are mainly stress inducers and joy stealers. I have seen writers quit writing after a 30 day challenge because they were burned out.
I never had a problem writing until I started the paid option on my Substack and way overcommitted. Promising a weekly new serial episode and two or three new short stories every week for paid subscribers. On top of my free weekly newsletter and novel in progress. The deadlines totally stressed me out and I could barely write. It was a chore. I wasn’t enjoying writing anymore. I was burning out. Something had to change.
I dropped the deadlines (except my free weekly newsletter which is no problem since it is mainly old stories), and switched my Substack to a patronage only basis. The stress immediately went away, and within a week, I was enjoying writing again. The amount of money I was making was not worth the stress. I may go back to adding paid benefits someday. But I am in no hurry to do so. It is not worth it for me. And what I was doing wasn’t working anyway. Almost all of my paid subscribers have told me they just wanted to support me. They did not expect anything extra.