Sunday, 11 August 2013
The dreaded writer's block...or is it just a myth?
It hasn't been at all a good writing week for me. I found myself dealing with the dreaded writer's block or is it all just a myth. There are those like Jon Gingerich who believe that there is nothing like the writer's block and he gives a scientific reasoning for it here http://litreactor.com/columns/the-myth-of-writers-block. After reading the article I'm inclined to agree.
Before I knew what it was I used to wonder what on earth was wrong with me. Why was it that at one period in time I was on a roll with my writing and the next I couldn’t come up with a single word? No matter how many times I scratched my head nothing was happening. And then I came to realise that the words are always there embedded somewhere within you but you just have to learn how to get them when you're faced with these supposedly dry spells. I do appreciate doing this can be the most frustrating experience that a writer can ever endure but not at all impossible to achieve.
Your heart is willing for you to write and yet your mind resists. You can't come up with so much as a sensible sentence. You beat yourself up because it is not the standard of writing that you're used to and your brain becomes slower than the fingers tapping on the keyboard. There is simply no inspiration coming forth. The more the hours tick by, the more frustrated you become. You have that novel to finish or a great article you’ve been meaning to write and yet nothing is forthcoming. You’ve simply shrivelled up!
So what do you do when the dreaded writer's block strikes or should I call it myth?
Well, I can only speak for myself and what has worked for me is to:
a) Write through the trash and somewhere in there I tend to find gold dust. The worst thing that a writer can do is stop writing altogether so it's better to write something than not write at all.
b) Redirect my energies. Instead of focussing on the novel or the article that is getting me frustrated in the first place, I write something completely different. Somewhere during the process I find my way back home.
c) Instead of spending hours staring at the computer, praying and willing for the words to come I refocus my energy. It is time for me to read that great novel I’ve been meaning to read but never found the time because I was on a roll with my writing. Who knows something inside that novel could be what I need to inspire me.
d) A walk in the park or sitting outside in the garden also does wonders. It’s amazing how the mind is triggered just by watching people going about their business. A bus speeding past you, a bee buzzing in your face, kids kicking a ball or someone’s laughter or voice could be just what you need to get those juices flowing again. This is the reason why it is crucial for a writer to always carry a notepad because when those words come they come fast but once they're gone you can never retrieve them. Not quite in the same way anyway.
e) Forget everything and just sleep. That’s right, sleep. Sleeping relaxes the rattled mind. One of my best inspirations have come to me in the stealth of the night, when there isn’t a sound and I have to get up there and then to write and I never have to change a word afterwards!
So I’ve learnt not to beat myself up when my creative juices dry up on me because I know the words are in there somewhere. I just have to master how to retrieve them and now as I write about the experience I'm dealing with it!