Any writer’s who’s a real writer will feel the pain of sitting at their desk, their brain pumping and flowing with ideas — when suddenly, to their absolute horror, they don’t remember how to get any of it out on paper. It is the dreaded writer’s block, the scourge of the Seven Pens (heh — just thought of that), the mortifying realization that you just. Can’t. Write.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. The desire is more than there. You really, really want to. It’s just…well…there’s that thing for work I need to work on, and the laundry to fold. And oh, if I had children, they’d need dinner — so I guess I should get started on that…
Yeah. It’s not pretty.
Today, I have the perfect reason to sit and do nothing but write: the inability to walk, and doctor’s orders. And yet, all I want to do is plop myself on the floor and sort through that office closet full of junk that I’ve been wanting to clean for the last six months. But I’m not! I’m here, typing viciously to get this out before what little inspiration and time I have tell me to stop. I’m also here to tell you just how I am choosing to get through this year’s current bout of writer’s block.
1. Writing through the Pain (aka Denial)
Okay, so, I know I used to be able to write. I know that I could at one time sit and write for hours. I know that I felt so satisfied doing it. So, how in the freak do I get back to that?
Simple. I mentally grab myself by the collar and say, “Look. We both know what this is really about. You don’t have writer’s block. You never had writer’s block. You think that just because you’re tired and stressed from other things, that gives you the right to make excuses?
“Do you want to be an award-winning novelist? Do you want to make your own schedule and type on those beaches of Hawaii in the middle of nowhere? Well then, stop sulking and start scribing!” And then I shove myself into a chair, fold my arms, and wait until I’ve nervously loaded up my laptop. Yeah — that’ll teach me.
2. Stream of Consciousness Writing on Steroids
I think my biggest fear in taking the time to write again is both building up the stamina to write like I used to (my longest session was 8 glorious hours) and giving myself permission to dedicate that time to it without feeling guilty or like I should be doing something “better” with my time. You hear it all the time: writing is a lonely sport, and it can be easy to feel like you’re wasting time.
Anyway, I’ve decided to set aside a minimum of 30 minutes a day to write pure stream of consciousness on anything, for anything. The bottom line is, I can’t stop writing. This is going to be time different from writing a blog entry or in an actual story. Hopefully, this time will allow me to “purge” all the crappy content that is blocking the real flow of dialogue and scene-setting.
3. Eating a Weird Meal
Tonight, my dinner consists of two sardines, a raw bell pepper, a yogurt “cheesecake” tart and a navel orange. First course — the pepper — was about an hour ago. Time for the main course!
4. Listening to James Blake Radio
About a year ago, while morphing into a basket case under the weight of being picked for jury duty, I met a young lady who introduced me to James Blake via his song “Retrograde.” I was immediately hooked and started listening to more music of his genre: folk, indie, Douglas Dare, Corinne Bailey Rae, Citizen Cope, with a little Seal and Michael Franks here and there. I welcomed, needed, and enjoyed the music that was inoffensive, soft, real, and simple. The kind of music that’s equivalent to sitting on the back porch in the summer, drinking tea and watching the moon rise among the choir of crickets and owls.
Ah, I can just hear the opening chords of Michael Franks’ “Lotus Blossom” now.
5. Editing Something Else
Believe it or not (I’m Robert Ripley! No, just kidding), but I actually have 90% of a rough draft of a novel that I completed in April or so of last year. It was a 300-page, hardcore labor of love, and I felt like singing when I finished that last sentence.
Then, three weeks after that, I read it again — and wanted to cry from my perceived sheer boredom of the content.
Fast-forward to about a month ago. While sorting through ye ol’ closet o’ junk, I found the aforementioned manuscript, beat-up and losing a few corners. Curious, I flipped through few pages and realized — huh. Tweren’t half bad, it weren’t. So, I’ve decided to resurrect the poor thing and see if there is a story yet to be salvaged within. Maybe the new-found hope will spark my currently fizzled-out muse.
And that, friends, is my current curriculum for beating writer’s block. I can only hope that I’ve given the next poor, unconventional soul some pearls of wisdom (or a grain of shrewd sand) to help them defeat this cruel, unbiased beast.
And now, I must close, because my head is feeling heavy, and it’s getting hot in this room, and my eyes are crossing, and I need to finish eating before my fat-burning window closes. Until next time!
(Durn this lack of writing stamina.)