Sorry for the delay in this post, you guys. Some random, flatulant demon farted near an underground cable yesterday and temporarily removed my website from the Internet. A crew of dedicated technicians expelled the demon and worked feverishly through the night and so here we are.
Thanks for your patience.
(If you ever see a demon in the grocery store, DO NOT let him buy beans. Thank you.)
Where were we?
Oh yeah. Writer's Block.
So – you have this dream about writing, or you're living the writing dream and you've actually sold your first book and now you have an advance and a contract and a deadline, and ….. the words won't come. Or you find that you are suddenly seized by the urge to alphabitize your spice rack by Country of Origin, or seek the perfect three-bristle, squirrel-hair brush that is the only way to clean the thing that you screw a lightbulb into.
You are in the throes of an evil spell.
In my experience, Writer's Block comes from:
2. Empty-Well Syndrome
3. More Fear.
Fear can be broken down a little further into these flavors:
1. The fear that the words you are about to write are less than Pulitzer-Prize or best-selling quality. In fact, they are so stupid, your computer might blow itself up out of shame if you type even one more word.
2. The fear that you don't have the talent to do any of this and that you are $200,000 in debt for your undergrad and MFA degrees and you are only qualified to load commercial dishwashers.
3. The fear that your ideas are so boring people will sue you because after they read two pages of your manuscript they'll fall into stupor, fall down, and get a concussion.
There is only one solution.
Seriously, you guys. Get a grip.
Yes, it's scary. Yes, you might not get this story published. Of course you're to going to be rejected and criticized and people are going to say mean things about you on the Internet. You have very little control over that.
You have TOTAL control over how you deal with your fears.
1. Focus on the process, not the outcome. This is boring and hard, which is why people prefer to fret about their Internet platform and Amazon ranking. Snap. Out. Of. It. Writers write.
2. Think about the next step, not the entire race. When you start to hyperventilate because you don't know how to get an agent, grab yourself by the ear and shift your focus to the next chapter that is begging you to write it. Or the next paragraph. Just one more sentance, if necessary. Baby steps.
3. Be grateful you're not a neurosurgeon. This is the best thing about writing!!! We get to fix the sucky parts!!!! (Neurosurgeons have to get it right the first time, poor sods.) So write that crappy draft, that bloated dialog. You'll fix it later, no worries!
4. Recognize that working on an oil rig is much harder than writing. If you have the time and space in your life to even think about writing a book, then you have an abundance of blessings. Count them. Write them down.
Pouring roof tar in Lousiana in July is hard. Teaching ninth grade is hard. Writing is awesome – you get to play with your imagination and create entire new worlds.
What was that Filling The Well thing I mentioned above?
It is very easy to burn out as a writer, especially if you succeed in being published and then face relentless deadline pressure. Filling your creative well is the only solution to burn-out. You need to read (for fun, not research) – read outside your genre, read books from other cultures and countries, read poetry. Listen to music. Indulge your senses. Make something with your hands. Draw, paint, weave. Buy yourself a coloring book and pretty pens and stay inside the lines, if that makes you happy.
That's it in one word: happy.
When you are trapped in fear or anxiety or self-loathing, you cannot create. Embrace the only guarantee granted to all writers: making stuff up is fun. The more you can stay centered in that joy, the more you will write. The more you write, the better you'll feel; the better you feel, the more open you become to new ideas, and all of sudden writing becomes something that you look forward to again, instead of somethng you dread.
Non-fiction prompt - Write down how you are going to fill your creative well this week. Include one field trip; trip to a museum, concert, movie, pumpkin patch, etc. After your "well time," freewrite about the experience.
Fiction prompt - Write a scene in which a frustrated writer takes a four-year-old to the zoo. Focus on the stream of consciousness that naturally flows from the child.
Fifteen minutes spent writing today could change your life.
scribble… scribble… scribble…