I don’t believe in writer’s block, but it definitely believes in me.
One of my favorite professors always noted that there was no such thing as writer’s block. And I recall nodding my head in approval, in a ‘preach on sister!’ sort of way. She didn’t insist that there are not days when ideas aren’t flowing or that one cannot get stuck in a story, she simply noted there are other parts of the job we can continue to work on during those moments when the next words in a story are tough to find.
Editing, revising, working on other stories, outline new ideas, flesh out a new character, but allow for the process of writing to progress instead of languishing in a helpless mode of being stuck. Those moments it feels like all of your creativity got together, planned an escape route and ran away from your brain like a Stephen King Shawshank Redemption prison break.
Of course, you set the hunting dogs out to find your creativity, but it is too clever, like Harrison Ford in the remake of The Fugitive — diving off cliffs to avoid your mind at all costs. And you wonder, did your creativity have help getting away? Did the monstrous entity known as writer’s block have a hand in all of this?
I recall my journalism days and there was no writer’s block impeding progress there. Or was there? With 15 bylines a week it didn’t seem like there were any days writing was more difficult than others. But there were some stories I avoided, or delayed much longer than the assignments I had an easier time completing. Subject matters were predetermined, so there was that, but some articles were definitely tougher to assemble.
Old school newspaper columns or modern blog topics were easy, because I was able to go with an interesting anecdote, or a hot topic or just something fun.
Fiction writing is proving to be a vastly different animal.
The attempt to create something unique, that feels new, of quality and a story no one else has told is a fascinating daily challenge. The ultimate creating something from nothing experience taxes creativity like nothing else.
Perhaps my creativity isn’t trying to permanently escape, it just needs a break, or to be taxed less often.
Fiction can be fun, yet difficult. I’ve seen those series of quotes and pictures on the ‘net, the ones “What people think I do” as a writer. There are a bunch for writers, as there should be, so many perceptions right or wrong about the craft in the ‘real’ world.
Usually, the first photo is what my friends think I do and it shows anything from drinking champaign in limos to staring at old typewriters all day. The next photo displays what society thinks I do, and the classic homeless person resting on a mattress on the sidewalk reading a newspaper is rather telling. My favorite is what publishers think I do and there is a photo of monkey in a hat sitting in front of a 1940’s typewriter. Infinite monkeys telling infinite stories indeed. The what I think I do photos can be fun too, the best is Albert Einstein working a chalkboard.
Genius at work here people, please stand back.
The what I actually do photos are all different in those meme sets, from playing video games, to surfing the ‘net to actually hammering away at a keyboard.
My reality is, I am constantly second guessing and then third guessing everything I put on a blank page. Is this good enough? Will anyone actually be entertained? How is this unique in world full of amazing stories from the beginning of time until the last season of Breaking Bad?
If writer’s block truly exists, these are the questions it asks your creativity every four and a half seconds, everyday, and into the night, in hopes of haunting your dreams.
I have the ego to do this. Ask anyone who ever heard me on the radio or read one of my sports column opinions. The swagger is all there. But generating quality results on the page everyday can beat down the most confident humans on the planet.
Thus, the hunt continues. I will track down my creativity. I will lock it up, but maybe give it more time in the yard. A little more time in the sun. And I will work on other revisions and story bits until I get my creativity in the right place. Eventually, I will win.
As for writer’s block, I will continue to refuse your existence. I will ignore the dark whispers that question why I should even bother to write at all, or if any of my words will ever be remembered. Ultimately, these words and stories must be told, or I’ll have entirely different sanity issues with the fiction trapped within.
No time to believe in writer’s block, or to hear those gnawing critiques of my ability hanging in the wind. One word, one edit, one day at a time if need be. Sorry to dismiss you old, imaginary nemesis of mine. I can’t afford to believe in you now.
Even if you believe in me.