So, I might have Writer’s Block. But, I don’t have any of the Wikipedia symptoms. I haven’t run out of ideas or inspiration — at least then I could do something else. So far as I can tell, the reason that Writer’s Block is so uncomfortable is because I know what I have to do but, I can’t seem to figure out how to do it. I could recite volumes of ideas and reasons to compose them but I cannot for the life of me write them down.
This conundrum has led me to a few sweeping generalizations about the affliction we call Writer’s Block. For one thing, how can you be sure you really have Writer’s Block? I have come up with a more comprehensive and realistic list of symptoms and tell-tale signs to look out for. They are as follows:
You have sat at your computer for two days now, waiting for something to happen. It would be nice if that were writing but, maybe you’ll get an email, tweet, tag, chat, blog comment or a confirmation of acceptance on submittable. Maybe you’ll read some incredible bit of news that will be just the ticket to your creative neuropathway.
*** Four hours later, you know who has a new dog, who’s going on vacation, and what Kate Moss ate for dinner. Now you’re upset about your life and your book so you vow to leave Facebook and twitter and go on vacation. You find out that tickets to Hawaii are super expensive.
Coffee, tea, cheese and crackers, salads, apples, smoothie, and a muffin – all before noon. Look up food blogs and plan an elaborate dinner. Last night it was gluten-free carmelized apple and onion with kale and sharp cheddar quiche. Tonight: grilled chipotle lime salmon with rice pilaf and hand churned orange sorbet. Does anyone have an ice cream maker to lend?
Extreme Sporadic Exercise:
You just ate all that food and your brain is full of mush so you think running, cycling, elipticalling, yogaing or tap dancing will help. Exercise is supposed to be non-intellectual. That is exactly what you need, a break from your brain. So you throw on some cheap pop music and your runners and off you go.
***Then, halfway through your run, you can’t help but speculate about the obvious disservice western society has done to these poor young pop stars and how we’ve collectively destroyed the lives of Rhianna, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera for sport. We point, laugh and take pictures of them while these children crumble under our scrutiny.
You change the music but find that you can’t run to CBC Modern Masters.
Directly after the pity party for the pre-teen pop star you start to think that maybe you and Mary-Kate Olsen have the same problem. You are accepting too much preemptive criticism from the imagined audience. Like Peter Elbow says, “an over awareness of audience can be paralyzing and can cause writer’s block.” You realize that every time you sit down to write a word, you are thinking of over-arching themes and how things are going to work into the over all plot, if that plot is good or if it’s been done before. You think these things because you are worried that no one will read it.
So, throw up your hands, take a deep breath and thank Britney for all the insight she’s shed on your life. She just reminded you that you didn’t become a writer just because of other people! You also write because you love it!
Now you can get started on the task at hand – first thing tomorrow!