12 October, 2011

Writer's (Chopping) Block

Writers' Wednesday!!!

There's no such thing as writer's block.  It's a myth.  Made up by trickster spirits like goblins, sprites, and fauns. And if you believe in writer's block, I've got a unicorn farm priced to sell.

A few noteworthy issues that keep the legend of writer's block alive more effectively than that silly photo of Bigfoot:

  • Subconscious awareness that you shouldn't write what you're trying to write because it's wrong
  • Laziness
  • Dawning realization that you don't know your topic well enough
  • Break time
I suspect that the majority of what people call writer's block has to do with the first issue.  Admit it.  We all get these marvelous epiphanies of the best story we've never written and then the deeper we get into it, the more we realize it's one of those microwave burritos that stay frozen in the middle and that doesn't matter a whole lot, because if it was cooked all the way through, it'd still be a horrible, tasteless mess.

I thought I had writer's block for a couple weeks about ten years ago.  (It wasn't writer's block.)  It was a plot hole large enough to run a super highway through.  I paved around the hole, finished the story, and only realized a few years ago that the screenplay I wound up with had two scenes that touched on my original story idea.  The whole script was otherwise well-written crap that the brads barely wanted to hold on to.

The second issue merits elaboration...  (but I don't feel like doing it).

A lot of people say, "write what you know."  I say, "write what you love."  If you truly love a subject enough, you will enjoy researching all the aspects of it necessary to build the backstory and knowledge base you will need.  The love will shine up through the page (or screen) like blowing kisses to your reader (audience).  Having a love and understanding of your subject means gushing all over the page.  You'll be too busy trying to fit all the words into the parameters of your format to be able to blame anything on the writer's block fairy.

The last issue of my (not entirely exhaustive) list deals with recharging after mental fatigue.  If you've been pounding at the keyboard for sometime, have cracked your knuckles to the point where you bend them mindlessly even without the satisfying popping noise, and/or find yourself making five detours on the way back from the bathroom, then you have just been warned to reconnect your charger, my friend.  Not writer's block.  So, take a walk, shower, nap.  Go dance, exercise, cook.  Just get away from the writing until you have got to get the words down or else the Universe as we know it will cease to exist.

I'm sure there are many more issues masquerading as writer's block.  Anyone care to share some?  Wanna comment on the points above?  Be my guest!


YellowBird said...

It seems to me, Raymond, that you have spent a lot of time thinking through this subject. Are you sure it isn't OVERthought?.... I have tried to write (about something I truly love, of course) but IF I can find a sentence to put on the page just to get me started I find that I can't prevent myself from hitting the proverbial brick wall.

Raymond Henri said...

YellowBird, I can only assure you that I have OVERthought this and many more issues. Decades of writing have set me up against some rather gnarly walls. If you don't believe your walls are created by any of the above issues, perhaps you have structural issues? (*cough* future blog post *cough, cough*) What would you call it? Perfectionism? http://raymondhenri.blogspot.com/2011/09/perfectionists-guide-to-poor-writing.html

Perhaps something else. Gotta knock down those walls. It's called writing. Not thinking.

YellowBird said...

I guess my mistake is waiting for it to flow onto the page.... sorry, the screen! Developing the idea has always worked best for me when I had someone to use as a backboard - like my brother(s). They can be pretty creative, and sometimes twisted, and I just love to hear their wicked wicked cackles when I realize they have taken be down a totally unexpected path!! Ah well, I'll keep trying, and checking back here to see what you have to say, if you don't mind.

Raymond Henri said...

Please do, YellowBird. Every Wednesday will be a writing tip discussion. If you subscribe for email updates, you can just pick which tips to read as they come up.

As for the writing flow, having a good person to bounce ideas off of is good, but eventually that blank page will replace your brothers. If you're writing stories, there can be quite a bit to write before you're ready to write.