Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Writer's Block, Fact or Fiction?

Today is a day for a bit of musing. So,  being a writer, I'll do it on the blank page, thus filling it with words.  What better way to ponder?

I've been hearing a lot lately about "Writer's Block".  Is it real? Is it not? How to cure it? Why do you need to cure it when it's not real?

Ah, yes, back and forth. Here's the thing, for many years I didn't really believe it was real in the rock solid sense.  Yes, I knew some writers had trouble writing at times, some for long times, but I didn't really think a lot about it or if I did I thought it was something they could work their way through, write their way through, bull their way through. And, in truth,most of the time that is true.  Apply seat of pants to chair, fingers to keyboard and write something.  Might be bad, might be terrible, but in the act of writing, of creating, we find the key to continue on. 


Well, most of the time. And I've written a blog post about that not too long ago.  Usually there are lots of little things you can do to encourage yourself to write, among them, simply write, bad or not.  Others are things like taking walks, in town or in nature, taking a bit of time for a favorite hobby, doing something with the hands can help free the mind. Take a drive. Relax with a cup of tea, read a book, meditate, visit a museum, whatever. Usually you are just a bit overtaxed, maybe a little burned out and tricks like that will do just fine. A breath of fresh air and begin again.

But what about the big enchilada; the time when you, for whatever reason, can't put words down on paper or up on the screen? When all those little distractions you've put in their place previously loom large and demand you take care of them right now, BEFORE you can write. Things which aren't important, but serve to reinforce your lack of writing. The "oh, all right, I took care of that today so I can write tomorrow," syndrome.

What about the times when there's a period of months or even years when you can't write or write very little?  I went through a period like that when my mother was very ill. I was her primary caregiver - then into a nursing home where I was there each day.  It's understandable at a time like that little or no writing will get done and that was certainly the case. 

But, then comes the aftermath. My mother died. I was/am a professional writer, books published with big name publishers, scripts optioned, articles placed online and in a magazine.  All that experience behind me and it took a couple of years after the drama of my mother's passing to even begin to regain my stride. Things were written, but not really usable. I'm just now revisiting that material and creating new.

Writer's Block?  It doesn't matter what it's called, it simply isn't there. During that time it was easy to create excuses not to write or to write, but with constant interruptions and I found ways to avoid putting words on paper.  Was I afraid to reveal what was going on inside of me by putting new creations on paper?  Was it that I had health problems immediately following hers?  Appendicitis isn't stress-induced, is it?

However it began, whatever you call it, it was very real and I was aware it was happening. 

So, what do you do? 

I have no great answer, I doubt anyone does. You might wail and curse, or watch yourself with a wry sense of humor as you check your email for the umpteenth time for no particular reason. Counseling can't hurt.

My only real advice is to keep writing.  Keep setting aside that time even if you end up creating little or nothing and fritter away your time in some mindless pursuit. Keep at it.  Keep your goal before you and press on. And absolutely forgive yourself when you don't accomplish what you intend. Then start new the next time. And I mean new in attitude, not necessarily new in what you're trying to create. It doesn't matter if other writers or friends and family don't really quite believe in this box you're in, if it is real to you it is real. 

Now, find your way out of the labyrinth. If it's what you truly want you'll come back to it and it will return to you.

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