Sunday, May 11, 2014

Who is Writer’s Block aka The Block?

By Kimberly Johnson
Aaagh. I cannot break through this peat-filled bog—I’m trapped and I cannot craft an introduction for this blog. In the hopes of replenishing my creative engine, I cranked up YouTube and viewed an episode of Sherlock, the British thriller, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Maybe a change in scenery would help me. It did. Afterwards, a conundrum vexed me:  What is this fiendish fellow called Writer’s Block? I ran to my closet and found my Sherlock Holmes’ chapeau (it was a baseball cap) and ferreted out this dastardly time-stealer.

In my opinion, The Block is the 50s creature, The Blob. It’s odorless and shapeless. When it takes over your mind, you’re powerless. Blogger Charlie Jane Anders believes there is no such animal as Writer’s Block. It is just a creative slowdown with causes and solutions. Anders features them in her blog, “The 10 Different Types of Writers Block and How To Overcome Them.” I have number 8: You can’t think of the right words for what you’re trying to convey.

What does It feel like? When does this malady occur?

To me, it feels like a blank space—nothing coming in, nothing coming out. One fiction writer characterized it as annoying and scary. Another writer conjures up the monster-under-your-bed scene from childhood. As for showing up, the Block rears his head when you run out of petrol with the storyline.

How do you end It? Hmmm. Watson, that’s not so elementary.

So I went to the experts to solve this quandary.

What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’— Maya Angelou

You hear of writers having such a tough time. They say, 'I can't make it work', and I always think, 'Why not?' I don't believe in writer's block. I've only been stuck briefly but then something will interrupt my day. I'll focus on that and when I go back to my work, I'm not stuck any more.  — Elmore Leonard

I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done. — Barbara Kingsolver


Jodie Cain Smith said...

Great post, Kimberly. I love the last sentiment. Just get it done. In my opinion, revisions always happen or should happen, so why not force yourself to write and see if anything good transpires. If it is all garbage, at least I can say I wrote. As far as waiting for my muse, I don't think I have one. I do, however, have several different characters living inside of me waiting for me to let them out. I just have to dismiss The Block and write.

Leigh Stevenson said...

Kimberly, It could be worse. You could be blocked by not having anything to say! At least you are just searching for the right words. They will come.Most every writer has been there.

Anonymous said...

Reading what Dr. Angelou gives me more inspiration to continue and focus on my poetry.