Monday, January 5, 2009

One Word at a Time

This week's topic is "Writer's Block," and because I've never truly experienced what I consider to be writer's block, I've had to give this post some serious thought. To me, writer's block is not being able to all. And that, simply, has never happened to me. Though, to be honest, the thought of THAT chills me as much as dumping a bucket of ice water over my head chills me.

What I have experienced is an inability to continue on with a particular story, or an inability to figure out why a particular story is not "right," and therefore, not being able to write until I "fix" it. Because I tend to get really focused on whatever my current work-in-progress is, this can be very similar to a block, but only because of my stubborness.

Yes. I am stubborn. I KNOW what I should do when I reach a point like described above. I should stop, I should give myself some time without trying to write at all so I can mull over the problem (meaning...NOT sitting at my desk staring at the computer with a blank look on my face), or I should write something else. Anything else. Just to get the wheels turning again.

Because I know if writing has halted on a project, then something is wrong with the characters, the story itself, that particular scene, where it's headed, or...sadly...all of the above. And sometimes I spend way too much time trying to find a fix with what I already have, rather than finding the error itself and then making corrections.

So I procrastinate, staring at the computer, hoping that somehow the "fix" will magically come to me. When I finally allow myself to walk away (even metaphorically) and do something seems I always figure it out, and then can come back to it with fresh eyes and excitement (because now I know what to do!).

So for me, writer's block is more about stubborness than it is anything else. I'm not saying other writers haven't experienced true writer's block, because as I've said before, we're all different and our processes are all different. What I am saying is that for me, I know what I NEED to do when the writing halts. It's just convincing myself sooner that it's the RIGHT thing to do.

Get up. Walk away. Work on something else. Let my mind figure it out.

One last thing...when I do figure it out? It really is like magic, because the words flow then and everything is simply wonderful.


Jillian Cantor said...

I agree -- sometimes it is hard to walk away. I get impatient and try to sit there and find an insta-fix But like you, it's usually the walking away that helps me out of a rut.

Carolyn McTighe said...

I agree. Walking away is the best method for me too. Great post.