The Oxford Dictionary defines Writer’s Block as ‘the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.’
Personally, I think writer’s block is a myth. It is simply a matter of sorting and then organizing your thoughts. I am not the neatest of writers. My ideas are not categorically tucked away on index cards in a box. Nor are they catalogued on my computer files; although a nice thought.
On my desk you find bits of paper with scribbling on them, sticky notes all over the place, book titles and outlines in several spiral notebooks. So when working on a book and it looks like things are heading for a dead end. I’ll browse over my sprawling notes and get other ideas. “Hmm, I wonder….”
“I really don’t feel like wrestling with this!”
For instance, the last time my mind took a walk through Wonderland I started writing two other books. Which were both finished while the main project sat in a lonely file on my computer under Manuscript1A for a season. Actually, my main project was completed for months. However, at the last minute, after hearing a sermon, the Holy Spirit prompted me to add one final chapter. In the development of this last chapter it was more of a “I really don’t feel like wrestling with this” as opposed to “I have no idea where this is going.” After some chocolate therapy, my thoughts were reorganized. Then little by little they tackled the chapter to its completion .
Honestly, sometimes my mind is so overloaded with different creative patterns a mental time-out is needed to catalogue them. In and on my desk are book titles, outlines, partial chapters and unfinished screenplays just waiting to be had. These writings all depend on the direction in which my creative compass is pointing. Some days I cannot write fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. Then other days my thoughts are running to catch up with me.
Just today, stumbled upon something I did not remember writing. It was like a jack-in-the box moment. A surprise that caught me off guard, but in a good way. With this find I take it to mean one of two things. Either senility has crept into the corridors of my thoughts, or this discovery is my creation’s desperate cry for help.
At any rate, after much research found an author or two who agrees with me. The one I found closest to my thoughts on this subject was Pat Barker, the author of Silence of the Girls. During an interview with Literary Hub Ms. Barker replied, “I don’t believe in using the term [writer’s block]. Everybody in any line of work has bad days when nothing goes right and they are expected to work through them, I don’t see why it should be different for writers. If the words keep drying up on a particular project it may be the wrong project for you or perhaps you’re trying to write it before it’s ready to be written. Take a break, do something else, let it settle in your mind—then try again.”
My sentiments exactly! I now have the confirmation of my strategy. It is no longer a Cheshire cat grinning at me then vanishing into the stratosphere of my thoughts. But a looking glass I have been gazing into since I picked up that very first pencil. No longer foggy—now crystal clear.
If there is such an animal as writer’s block, it must be lurking somewhere beneath my piles of unfinished works. So long as those piles of scribbles and sticky notes remain unchallenged; this will undoubtedly keep him at bay. With the subliminal thought of reorganization. Just enough to hold him hostage in an idea chasm somewhere between my ‘to write or not to write’ debate.
What are your thoughts on the subject?
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