It’s like sucking a golf ball through a garden hose.

It’s probably safe to say that every writer on the planet has an opinion on Writer’s Block.  Some suffer from and through it on a regular basis, while others deny its existence entirely.  Of course I have to be contrary about the whole thing—I think it’s not so much a blockage as an emptiness.  Sometimes I just feel as though I’ve used up all my words.

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The feeling is always  a surprise, no matter how many times it’s washed over me.  I’ll be cooking along on a story and out of the blue I’ll open the doc to write and nothing comes out.  Well, nothing good anyway.  See, to me, that’s the real problem—and maybe I should amend my sweeping statement.

Sometimes I feel as though I’ve used up all my good words.

I’ve just reached the other side of an episode like that, which is why it’s on my mind.  I’ve had a lot of problems with this story, which I’ll call CS.  I started drafting it years ago, when I was still beating my head against the mainstream wall surrounding the 212 in NYC.  (Or maybe just swimming against the current.  Whatever it was, I’ve stopped doing it.)  As soon as I let the protagonist be the man he always wanted to be (which is to say, an actual man) things started flowing.  I was up to about 30K words before I slowed down, and ultimately the whole thing ground to a halt.  Part of that was sheer lack of time, and the fact that after studying for 8 hours or more my brain felt a little like Cream of Wheat.  But that didn’t explain why I couldn’t work at midday or first thing in the morning.  I tried everything, until I realized it felt like I was reaching into an empty bucket.

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Okay, this is chocolate mousse but I never liked Cream of Wheat and if my brain’s going to resemble something whipped it would be chocolate flavored.

So that night when I went to bed I thought about a completely different story.  I didn’t search for a thread of CS to pull on in the hope that it would unravel whatever was blocking the story, I just let it go (with the promise to R & M that I’d be back once they shaped up and started talking sense again).  The next day I read twice (which, this term, is a rare luxury).

The day after that, M cleared his throat and very politely said, “Here you go.”  Because he’s very polite. And now most, if not all, of the holes are filled.  With actual pictures and words and causality.  It’s a beautiful thing.

In my head, anyway.  I still have to find the time and words and brain power to put them all into the story itself, but that’ll come.  Soon.  My goal is to start on my own edits for CS by March 27.  Hopefully putting it down in black and white will help remind me that when the term is over I can’t collapse and sleep for a week.  If I wanted to write stories nobody would ever read I would’ve left R with a vagina instead of letting him be a man who finds love in a deliciously curious way.

What are your feelings on writer’s block?  Does it exist?  If you’ve ever had it, how did you get past it?

photo credit/empty buckets: dongato via photopin cc
photo credit/chocolate mousse: rofi via photopin cc

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