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Posts Tagged ‘writer’s block’

I cannot count all the phenomenally wonderful creative ideas that have fluttered through my head over the past several months – or the not so pretty yet powerful outpours of emotions through words.  They hit me while I’m driving, or while I’m walking through a market, or while I’m at work, or otherwise engaged and unable to write them down.

I cling to them… the muse’s ponderings, holding them firmly in mind until I can reach pen and paper (or keyboard). I tell myself to remember and I repeat the words.  Sometimes it’s only two or three lines, sometimes it’s just one sentence, or a paragraph – but I hold them, I replay them in my head… and then I find the time available and I pick up the pen and I jot the words down. I get so excited about finally being able to take the thoughts from my head and manifest them on paper… and suddenly, once on paper, they’re crap! It’s the same words I saw in my head that seemed so profound, so prolific, so insightful, so well placed – and once placed on paper, they “feel” different.  They’re not as smooth.  They’re choppy.  They’re cheesy.  That’s it… cheesy. Oober cheesy.  Cheese whiz kind of cheesy…. and, well, I’m lactose intolerant.

Ink changes things.

I’m irritated with myself about my writing. There used to be a time I could write three or four poems and a good, solid article in a day – or at least, in a week.  Here it’s been months and months since I’ve created anything I consider of value. I’ve leaned on my archives a lot in creating this blog… digging up nuggets of gold from a year ago, two years ago, ten years ago.  But there’s nothing recent – nothing other than rants and raves about this, that, or the other thing.  It’s all yada yada yada.

Where has my creative ability gone? Is it just that I’m working too many hours and don’t have the time to sit and daydream the way I used to? Is it that I’ve lost the skill all together?  Is the Universe intentionally puting me in a time out? Am I blocked by things I’m afraid to face? (Should I repeat that? *nods* – Am I blocked by things I’m afraid to face?)

Whatever the reason, it’s clear to me that while I may be waxing poetic thoughts in my head, I can’t seem to successfully transfer them to paper. 

Ink changes things.

Here’s what irritates me the most.  I’m not wanting to write for the sake of profession. I don’t require publication to achieve validation – I only want to write for me… to store in my own portfolio, to share here on my blog… to write for the sake of writing.  There’s no pressure, no deadlines, no set topics, no word count requirements… so why can’t I do it?

Maybe I should get back into the practice of writing my “Thoughts of the Day” – and no, that’s not the same as my “coffee thoughts” rambles.  Thoughts of the Day was a writing exercise I used to do where I’d choose a random quote – any quote – and then write four hundred words (or for twenty minutes) about that quote… following the thought wherever it went.  It didn’t always produce good writing, but it kept the pen moving and the muse well exercised. But that begs the question… when?

*sigh*

I guess I’ll just take the creative time out with a grain of salt, work through what needs worked through, continue the “rants” here as I have, and hope that some day, something other than cheese will flow through my pen.

W

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Written by:
Wendi Friend
2005

You know what writers’ block is, don’t you? There are so many articles available online, and support groups of fellow writers who can pick you up, offer encouragement, and give advice on how to overcome the beast. When the well of inspiration seems tapped, writers and other creative minds become frozen and fear-filled. What if the muse never comes back? What if a good sentence couldn’t be found if life depended on it, and what if the perfect word would never again be embraced with enthusiasm and adrenaline? This fear isn’t just career related. The panic stretches far beyond the reaches of employment, deep into the core of a writer’s very soul. Writing is an escape, a “get out of jail free” card in a world where there are no rules or realities. What if the writer’s block lasts forever then where will the soul of the writer go for release?

Not to worry, writer’s block isn’t always terminal, and there are “cures” for the condition. What you may not realize, though, is that writer’s block isn’t the only reason a writer finds themselves inked dry. Another reason writers are prone to dry spells is that they need to re-fuel and allow the muse to rest. Consider it a forced vacation from the Universe letting you know your tank is empty and you’re on the verge of being considered a slave driver for the way the Muse is worked overtime with little recognition or compensation.

How is this type of “block” different from writer’s block? Writer’s block occurs when the writer is expecting something profound with every stroke, when they write for reasons other than their own, or when outside influence prevents time or space for tapping the well of creativity. When the writer tries too hard or can’t concentrate consistently, their wheels tend to spin – and for as much as they want to create something and move forward, they’re stuck in the sludge of everything around them. Writer’s block can also occur when the writer heads off in the wrong direction with their words. Stories tend to want to write themselves once the muse has lit the path, but writers tend to want to show control over the story and force it in the direction they “think” would be best. The best writing isn’t ever “thought” of in the process. Instead, the best writing is nothing more than an accurate translation of deep feeling. As the writer stops “feeling” and starts “thinking” about how the story should unfold, a block is created. All of these blocks can be overcome through exercise (prompts, group support, research, music, and organization. On the contrary, the type of block I’m referring to doesn’t have a cure, nor is it triggered by an outside influence. Instead, it’s an uncontrollable, involuntary, desperate need to rest, rejuvenate, relax, and restore the muse and the mind to balance.

Writers love nothing better than to find their “zone” and follow the wings of inspiration, regardless of the genre, style, or pay. Journals, diaries, poetry, song lyrics, articles, fiction, non-fiction – These all take on a life of their own once the writer submits to their influence. But writers also have a tendency to block out reality and get so wrapped up in their own plots and characters that they forget to live the life of their own. “I’ll be there in two minutes; just let me finish this one thought.” Two hours later, supper is cold, the kids are in bed, and the spouse is asleep in the Lazy Boy chair with a disappointed expression. You wonder for a moment how two minutes turned into two hours, but you don’t linger long on the thought because the answer is obvious to you.

Even better, the writer will not feel guilty long, but will instead feel the perk of the ears when the thought occurs, “Oh, this means I can go get more work done!” The writer will remember deadlines and statistics more often than birthdays or scheduled appointments.

Keeping our eye on the goal has given us a bit of tunnel vision and all we can see before us is the “next step” that will put us one step closer to reaching “it”. Sadly, most of us don’t even know what “it” is, nor do we realize that our concepts of time differ greatly from those around us. We seem to think in a way that suggests, “Oh, one day, I’ll make it, and then everything will be so much better.” But writing is like laundry: you can do it every single day and yet never be done doing it! There is no “there” we’re trying to get to; there is no “finished”; there is no “last” piece to write. We’re simply doing what we enjoy or that we feel “called” to do – and hoping the experience will be lucrative in recognition and compensation.

When the writer is so trapped in tunnel vision they’ve gone cross-eyed, then the Universe steps in with an, “Okay, enough is enough”, forcing you into a time out so you can step back into your skin and enjoy your real life. Don’t describe sights, sounds, and smells – but experience them for yourself! Don’t write about passion, stop clicking the keyboard long enough to be passionate toward those you love. No amount of writing exercises, games, trips, triggers, or supports will allow you to write again until you’ve been back in your own life long enough to remember how to appreciate it. Appreciation for life is the signal to the Muse that it’s safe to come home.

So the next time you find your muse has gone silent, don’t cry “writer’s block” as an instinctive response and try to cure it with writing prompts or journals. Seriously consider your reason for being blocked, and then ask yourself how involved you’ve really been in your own life. You may not need to be flexing your creative muscles, but rest and relax with the people, places, and things you love. Honor the seasons of your muse and your life by knowing when all that’s needed to cure a “block” is for you to step back, for a time, into reality. Play with kids, walk your dog, swing, enjoy a sunset. Live every season and you’ll live in harmony with the Seasonal Muse.

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