Over the past few months, I’ve been exchanging comments with a fellow WordPress blogger named Lisa. She’s an amazing writer, so please feel free to check out her work on The Otherhood Of One. Lisa has been an incredible source of encouragement for me, so I wanted to give her a shout out. Thank you, my friend.
Her latest comment made me think about the writing process and writer’s block, so I wanted to write down a few thoughts.
All of us have heard of “writer’s block.” Does it really exist? If it does, what causes it? How do we over come it?
WHAT CAUSES WRITER’S BLOCK?
Let’s assume for the moment that writer’s block does exist. There are MANY, MANY articles on this subject, but I’m going to write about what causes MY writer’s block.
Time Constraints: I can’t write right now. I don’t have enough time. Only fifteen minutes until the kids wake up from nap time. I need an entire day or at least four uninterrupted hours to write. If I had more time, I would write the perfect, best-selling novel. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA……. Guess I’m better off waiting until my next lifetime to write. I think I’ll be an ascetic. Maybe in Tibet. No, wait a second…. Persecution is a major impediment to writing. Let me think about this a little more. Obviously, if I wait for “more time,” I’ll never write anything in this lifetime.
Unrealistic Expectations: I don’t know about you, but I have this ridiculous idea that every time I put pen to paper or finger to keyboard, perfect prose should gush forth to inspire the masses. If my words aren’t perfect, then they must be crap. And who wants to read or write crap? I’m better off not writing anything. (At least that’s what goes through my head.)
A Dead End: This is related to unrealistic expectations, but when I have an idea that excites me, I expect it to evolve in a certain way. So when the idea doesn’t pan out on paper or screen as well as I had hoped, disappointment crushes me into inaction. I wonder why I even bothered and go buy a bunch of chocolate cake pops.
Inertia: If I don’t write SOMETHING every single day, I lose writing momentum. My well of ideas dries up, the muse leaves the building, everything shuts down. I start cleaning on purpose. Vacuuming is appealing. Hell, even folding LAUNDRY is appealing. Anything to stay away from my overbearing laptop and its disapproving blank screen.
HOW CAN WE OVERCOME WRITER’S BLOCK?
So, the kids are asleep, the house is clean, I’m covered in cake pops and staring at a blank screen. (Hey! That rhymes!) I rest my head on a pillow, tempted to succumb to my sugar crash. What do I do? How do I get motivated to write?
Music/Dancing/Art: For me, music and writing are closely intertwined. For example, my second published article on Scary Mommy, Being A Mom Without A Mom, was inspired by music. I wrote the rough draft while crying through a song that reminded me of my mother’s time in the hospital. My friend Lisa alluded to something similar. Art and dance inspire her creativity. All art forms are connected. The emotions that are stoked by one art form can be transferred to another art form.
Reading: When an idea doesn’t pan out the way I want it to, I occasionally walk away and pick up a book. There’s something about reading another author’s work that inspires me to get back to the drawing board.
Write Through The Block: This works best for me. If a story isn’t working for me (like now), I will stop and write about something completely unrelated (like writer’s block.). I generally alternate between writing stories and writing about writing stories. (My head hurts from that sentence.) So, even when a story stumps me, I must keep on writing.
Give Yourself Permission To Write Crap: Stop fighting the crap and embrace it. (Okay, I’m a few feet away from a diaper pail, so that was a disturbing image. But you know what I mean.) Write garbage and revel in it.
TO ANYONE READING THIS: Do you believe that “writer’s block” exists? If not, why? If so, do you have any other suggestions for overcoming “writer’s block?” Please let me know what you think!