WFMAD Day 13 – The Roots of Writer’s Block

 

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Writer's block is so feared, that I wonder if all writers should avoid even saying or writing the words, the way that Macbeth is known in the theater as "The Scottish Play." Maybe we could call WB "The Dread Condition" or "The Foul Muse."

A few writer's don't believe in The Dread Condition, like Joyce Carol Oates, author of roughly 20,000 novels.

 

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She has a point – trying to write about something before you are ready is like trying to get a car to run on orange juice. But in my experience, there are other flavors of The Dread Condition. 

Fear of Being Less Than Perfect – Your Amazing Idea is amazing as long as it stays in your head. When you sit down to a keyboard, however, your fingers can't move. Any string of words you dream up comes so freaking far from your amazing idea that you give up and google "French Foreign Legion." Maybe they'd hire a failed writer.

Fear of Having No Talent – Every word you type is accompanied by screeching from the rabid bats fluttering around in your brain. They call up images of people from your past who doubted and judged you and made you feel like a rather small, rather dim-witted, naked mole rat. They scream that you are worthless and you're wasting your time and you are going to die, homeless, under a bridge, surrounded by shopping bags filled with empty pages. Your little paws shake so much that you can not type.

Fear of the Countless Mind-Numbing Fears That Chase Around and Around In Your Brain So Fast It Feels Like A Blender Set To Pulverize – Yeah, you're a mess. 

 

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You are a normal writer.

Everyone deals with fears like these, along with a few thousand others. Getting published does not make them go away. In fact, it can make things worse, because it sets the bar even higher.

Children make art, sing, invent stories, and dance as easily as they breathe. Somewhere along the way, many people lose the easy grace that is the natural partner of creativity. This has a lot to do with the judgement and criticism that happens in school. Our work is held up and compared to others. We're trained to strive for a high grade, one that can be evaluated and measured according to metrics and rubrics. There are fewer and fewer chances to strengthen our creative muscles and they wither.

But the desire to create does not.

Your writer's block is a painful response to old training. That training can be undone. You can get back to the ability to create with the ease of childhood. How? I'll tell you tomorrow.

 

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Non-fiction prompt – Indulge in your worst writing nightmare, the biggest fears that interfere with your work. Write it all down, all of the bad things that you fear could happen to you if you write your story. Then set the piece of paper on fire, dump the ashes into the toilet and flush.

Fiction prompt – Take a character from one of your favorite books, someone who had to overcome a fear and take a chance. Write a fanfiction piece about that character and how her life would have turned out if she had not confronted her fear and done the hard things. 

 

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Fifteen minutes spent writing today could change your life.

scribble… scribble… scribble…

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