Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Writer's Block


I thought I’d experienced writer’s block, but after a recent experience, I realize that I had never really felt it until now. You know in caper movies, when the criminals are about to escape with the art/money/priceless antiquities, but then the alarm sounds and WHOMP! the impenetrable metal gate falls across the room and they’re trapped?
Recently, this is what happened in my brain every time I tried to think about my book.
I’d be going about my business, and think that it might be okay to try to work on a scene, and WHOMP. Metal gate slams closed on the brain. Trapped with nowhere to go.
And then, to add insult to injury, for some time after that the mental block would spread to everything else I tried to do, even if it had nothing to do with my MS. It’s like (to completely mix metaphors) the beach ball of death had come to my brain. It was still technically ON, but nothin’ was happenin’.
[BBoD, the bane of every Mac user's existence]
Some people say that writer’s block doesn’t exist. Why do writers get a special excuse to not do their work? Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block!
But here’s the thing. I’m sure plumbers do have times when they feel less than good about their jobs. Doesn’t everyone? Like when you would rather poke your eyes out than go to work? When it seems like your brain has run off with your motivation and they’re vacationing in Tahiti without you? But when plumbers go to work feeling crappy about it and not on their A-game, they still weld pipe A to fitting B and the sink still stops leaking, just as it would on their best day.
Not so for creative pursuits. Even on my worst day, I could force words down on the page, but they are going to be awful. Horribly crap-tastic. When writers, or anyone in a creative job, isn’t feeling it, the work truly suffers.
Luckily, I figured out the cause of my writer’s block. This is the key. I do firmly believe that it’s not an incurable disease. Once you figure out the cause, you can figure out the cure. And next time: what that cure turned out to be.
What do you think? Does writer’s block really exist?

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