Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Drawing a blank

There is no such thing as Writer's Block, only incubation periods.

The problems start when we do not allow for them. Instead of backing off and let our subconscious do its job, we poke and prod. Soon, our mind says, "Shut up, already. Can't you tell? I'm busy here!"

How often have you heard "Put it aside", "Come back to it with fresh eyes?" or some other version of "Let it rest?" Too many to count, I'll bet. And, how often have you gone to bed without a clue and awakened with words flowing so fast your fingers can't keep up? At least a time or three, I'll warrant. Both are examples of the subconscious at work.

Sometimes, the more you TRY to write, the less you accomplish.

The next time your story bogs down and refuses to move, go clean the refrigerator or mow the lawn. Go to the beach, the woods, the mountains, whatever it takes to get you away from the keyboard long enough for your subconscious to solve the riddles and write the story. It will all come out, ready to polish, sometime, if you will simply let it perk a while.

By insisting on writing NOW, when your mind is screaming, "Give me a break," you slow the creative process. The subconscious gets balky when it's pushed.

Sometimes, the piece you have in front of you is not the one your mind wants to deal with right now. Don't just sit there staring into space and swear you'll never come up with another idea. Load up a different file and see what happens. If that doesn't work, if your mind still refuses to cooperate, you can always do as I have done.

Run off a piece on non-existent writer's blocks.


  1. Oh, I can identify with this.I never have writers block, but I do have trouble many times coming up with an idea that I really WANT to write, the kind of story that demands to be written.

    I enjoyed this Peg. thanks for sharing it.

    Jay Hudson

  2. I have plenty of ideas on how to deal with writer's block and I can solve it all in one word: PERSONAL VACATION!


  3. Anonymous7:35 AM

    I love to cook. I keep about three soups going at once. "Eternal soups," I call them, because I keep adding a little to this one, a little to that.

    I do the same with writing. So one piece I'm working on doesn't call to me, doesn't want to be written on, added to today, I lift the lid on another, see what's simmering there.

    Rik Alaurho

  4. For most of my writing life my mantra has been "I never get writers' block" and then it hit.

    I don't usually get into personal history but it is necessary here to explain what happened.

    In October of '03, I completed a detailed outline for a series of three novels about which I had been thinking and dreaming for over adecade. Everything was set for the writing to begin right after 2 major and unavoidable surgeries.

    Then, in Dec '03 while in the process of having the same proceedure I had survived the month before my husband/partner of 49 years passed away and suddenly I didn't know who I was.

    I had become so accustomed to living and working in tandem I couldn't peddle life's bicycle alone. By the time I started to figure that one out, about 6 months later I lost my only sister. The sister who was my surrigate mother while our mother of necessity took over the role of father in our lives.

    Betty was the only person I knew who loved me even when thoroughly disgusted with something I'd done. To top that off, I who had always been the baby of a large extended family was suddenly thrust into the position of matriarch. The eldest woman in the clan.

    My mind turned to mush but I managed - don't ask me how - it's a blur.

    By the second anniversary of my husband's death, I was forced to admit that the yard he loved and cared for was too much for me to manage. I had a son who live half a block away but I rarely saw him while my daughter drove over 30 miles to take me shopping and to mow the lawn. I put the house up for sale.

    Anyone who has ever tried to sell their home while living in it knows what the next 4 months were like. My mind was a mish-mash of clutter from clearing clutter and avoiding the adjacent memories. Every piece that went to charity or garage sale carried a story and each story had to be relived reluctantly or not.

    Together with all of that came the decision of what to do next. I knew I needed to be near my daughter but should I build my own little house on her property? Or should I take over half of her house? We, she and I decided on the latter which would allow me to use the capital gain from my home to add ammenities to hers and to do things I'd never had the chance to do before - like travel.

    That settled, the closing on the house in Biloxi was on August 25th, 2005. I moved to my daughter's on the 27th, evacuated on the 28th. and returned on the 30th to find most of my beloved Mississippi Coast washed away.

    WE got off light in that we only lost our outbuildings and had some minor damage to the house. but we still had the trauma that comes with dramatic and sweeping change.

    Having sold my home, I had the money for a long desired trip to Greece but there was nowhere to get a passport. The postoffices were gone!

    I'm not going to go on and on about this here. I'm still not clear on the months after Katrina except that my mind was mush. I could not put two sentences in a row for weeks and the idea of creating a decent paragraph was beyond comprehension.

    Now, it's been over a year since Katrina, 26 months since I lost my sister and 32 since my life partner moved on without me but my mind is still mush. My Muse refuses to talk to me and creating a fictional paragraph is like digging out an impacted wisdom tooth.

    Do I believe in Writers' Block? Oh yeah! It happens. It hurts! And I hope I never ever get another one. That is if this one should ever completely go away.


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