Howdy Folks! Happy Saturday!
Some time back, I started my long-promised series on writer’s block. In part 1, I talked a bit about my own experiences — both times when I could not write and the some of the circumstances in my life during those times. My definition of writer’s block is…when you find yourself unable to write despite having the desire to do so.
Those blocks were tough — especially as my career became more established. Some of that was because years of practicing had brought me to the point where I could call down fiction with very little effort. And some of that was because more was expected of me; I was under contract and fans were waiting for the next installment.
Today, I want to talk a bit about what to do…and not do…when you first realize something’s wrong and you’re not finding your words.
The biggest don’ts I can suggest is from a lesson I learned the hard way. Don’t beat the goose if the golden eggs aren’t coming fast enough. Bludgeoning yourself is never going to help. It will simply compound the problem. And the second don’t is don’t give up. You have to strike a balance between cutting yourself some slack and continuing to try.
As to the dos….
First, do take a careful inventory of everything. Is there a problem with golden egg or is there a problem with the goose? Are you able to shift gears into another project…that may indicate a block in the project you’re working on. Dig into that and explore it. Are there expectations you’ve created that are giving you performance anxiety? Is your version of Leroy trying to tell you that the story is up against a wall? Commit yourself to exploration.
And then look at the goose. What’s going on in your life? If you’ve lost a loved one or a significant relationship, you may be grieving. And grieving impacts every part of a person’s life. In my own personal experience, it has about a four to six month impact on my creative process. Is it winter? Could you be seasonally depressed? Look at everything and use other events in your life as a barometer. Are you experiencing disruptions elsewhere? Stress in the day job? For those of us raising kids, writing, working a dayjob…that’s a pretty full plate. What you may have is a case of being exhausted and overextended. What happens when you start giving yourself a real day off every week? What if you take a vacation and then try to write?
Sometimes, I’ve learned, we’re blocked for very good reasons. Start with that inventory.
Next week, we’ll talk about what to do next.
Trailer Boy out.