Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Writer’s block morphs and changes

Yesterday, I had an excellent day of writing. Becky and I monopolized a couch in the coffee shop from eleven am to four-thirty pm. I didn’t write every single second of that time, but I did get into a groove and managed to pump out over 1,500 words. While I was writing away, I noticed something interesting.

I was chatting with Rachel in the background. I would write my story while waiting for her to respond to whatever I’d said last. I’d made writing the time-passing activity, instead of phone games, or Netflix. It was the most freeing attitude shift: instead of using chatting as a distraction from writing, they existed non-competitively and non-stressfully, side by side. And having five hours of friendly relations with my book has, for the time being at least, altered my overall feelings towards it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of it, or frustrated by its inscrutability, now I feel affection with it, like we’re friends who are going to get together to do something later.

In the past I’ve written blog posts that assert theories on how to overcome writer’s block. Those blogs were correct, for me, at that time. I didn’t anticipate—didn’t understand—that the rules could and would change. I don’t think that I've seen this expressed as conventional wisdom in the multitude of writing blogs I follow. Maybe it’s because it’s self-evident to most, but it was a surprise to me. It was like having the whole floor jerked out from under me when my old tricks didn’t work anymore.

Now that I understand that the Inhibitor is an adapting creature, moving to choke off the little shoots of inspiration that manage to wind their roots through the joints in its protective carapace, I feel slightly more prepared to keep it in perspective. But (and this is an advanced philosophical realization, don’t try this at home), I realize that even this feeling of being properly armed is going to leech out too. It’s a constant growing rumble. The only way to turn down the volume is to keep trying, trying, trying. And be kind to myself.

The Inhibitor is a master of disguise. It makes itself look like inspiration to do other creative projects (my personal favorite); exhaustion or sleepiness; and when all else fails, it just starts sounding alarm bells. They are sometimes articulate, "You will never get it right! You might as well not try! You will never get it right!" or "It’s no fucking fun! Why are you even doing this! Don’t you have something better to do!" Sometimes it’s inarticulate, but I can make the screaming shut up by walking away from the writing. If I get too close to it, it keeps getting louder. And sure, there are some days when the alarm never would shut up, no matter how hard I tried; but I suspect that, most of the time, if I just pushed through it, it would eventually fade away.

It is pretty frustrating and exhausting to have to keep switching up techniques for getting around the Inhibitor. It’s not like it publishes a handbook; and I suppose if it did it probably wouldn’t include ways to disable it. You just have to keep trying different things, again and again. And sometimes, you have to keep trying things that don’t work that well, if you can’t think of anything else. It’s really not surprising that it can have so much power over you.

Anyway, happy rambling is me. More work on snails art today, followed by more writing (I hope). Happy writing!

Word count: 8,747 (∫)

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