Writer’s Block: Is it all Just Crap?

IMG_1303I’ve thought about this blog for a while now. In a seminar back in January, I learned all the ways it’s critical for an author to build a platform, to be able to self-promote, and how apparently, no one can get published anymore unless you carry a consistent Klout score of somewhere around 80 (which is nearly impossible).

Daunting feat thought it may be, a nice foundation for your platform is a blog. Talk about writing, talk about books, talk about your kid puking all over the bathroom floor.

Great. Easy. I’m a web designer. Web site = no problem. I’m a writer. Content = no problem. Still, with all my schoolwork and writing, the project got put off. Well, not put off entirely. More like put into research mode.

I thought up names, I learned about building a following with my nail blog, I watched free (FREE!) Creative Live Courses and learned the importance of Twitter (thank you, Kim Garst!). And I started tweeting. I made a Facebook page to be my official author page. I wrote my bios, updated my profile pics, and created the look of my personal brand. I even had an Evernote file of blog ideas, which seemed at the time to be endless. All fun stuff. Love the research phase.

But research only lasts so long. Eventually, you have to do something. I just finished writing a novel and sent it off to a contest. I have a few weeks before my next school assignment is due and since I’m starting NaNoWriMo on November 1, the blog had to get up and running. Like now. By way of my puking child, I got a day off work and used the hours to my full advantage, transforming a beautiful WordPress theme into this site and knocking out all the little details.

Then it came time to write my first blog post. I looked at the list of ideas and somehow, nothing seemed to fit. I realized then that the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach was fear. Fear! My mind seized up and I thought, oh no. I have nothing to say. How will I ever manage to write multiple posts in a week?!

So, I did what I do when I don’t want to write or feel like I can’t. I stared at a blank page for about two seconds, then let my fingers to do their thing. And this post came out.

I might be unique in the world of writers. I do not believe in the existence of writer’s block. Oh, I know the days when you don’t want to write, or feel like you can’t, or the idea just isn’t right, or you’re so frustrated with your novel that your finger itches toward the delete button. There’s one solution to the myth of writer’s block: write.

Write anything. It can be bad. It can be horrible. It can be completely irrelevant to what you should be working on, but you know what? If you’re writing something–an.y.thing–you’re not blocked. Don’t give in to the myth. Don’t let your fear tangle you up. Take your blank page and stuff it (full of words).

On an ironic side note, the day after I wrote this post, guess what I found in my inbox? Two emails from two separate writing blogs, both about writer’s block. Ok, universe, what are you trying to tell me? At first, I actually considered changing my post. I thought, maybe I’ve just been lucky and haven’t suffered from writer’s block. Maybe I’m not being sensitive enough to the dilemmas of my wordly cohorts. Then I read the posts.

Nope. Not a believer.

These are both really great blogs and I enjoy them. I am not putting them down in anyway. In fact. Go follow them: Writers and Authors and Write to Done

The thing is, they talked about issues like not having ideas, not being inspired, not having the energy, even having too many ideas to focus (I might suffer from that occasionally). They talked about great solutions: get exercise, use writing prompts, unplug, free write. I’m sure they all work well.

But here’s the thing. That’s not the same as not being able to write. That’s not being able to write well. So, let’s call it what it is. Not writer’s block. It’s writer’s sludge. It’s when all that comes to your mind is crap and all that comes out is crap. Hot, stinky, crap. Like a pile in the corner that the kitten just left. Oh, wait. No, that’s my living room. (Anyone want a kitten?)

Writer’s block, as most people refer to it, is just an excuse. Trust me. I’ve used it. It sounds much more important and sympathy-inspiring than to just admit, I don’t feel like it. If you’re having issues writing, you’re not blocked, you’re sludgy, and you don’t have to be.

Being in an MFA program is a whole different type of deadline than a publisher or employer breathing down your neck to get it done. It’s the difference between being paid for your writing and knowing that you’re paying for it. I’ve been in the place where I had an assignment of 15 pages due and the last thing I wanted to do was to jump into that world with those characters. But, I had to write, so I wrote something I hated. It was awful. All 15 pages will likely be trashed. I could have claimed I was blocked, but in reality, I was being lazy and bored.

The point is. Those crappy pages led me somewhere. They led me where I knew I didn’t want to go, but they also pointed me in a better direction. Even if you have a deadline where you can’t turn in crap, you can still write the crap first, then make it shine later.

Nora Roberts said, “You can fix anything but a blank page.”

Yup.

Write something, then visit the land of what ifs (which is, btw, the new name of my blog: The Land of What Ifs).

Suppose there’s a man crossing the street. What if he trips? What if he bumps into a woman who is/turns out to be the love of his life? Or his ex who broke his heart? What if he found something on the ground? What if he realized he was on the wrong street? What if he got hit by a car?

See. That took me two seconds, but gave me infinite directions to take a story in. Depending on how far you are in your story, you won’t have quite as many options, but there are always options. Go play with them. Before you know it, you’ll have something worth keeping. And if it’s not worth keeping, you’ll know that, too.

Your thoughts? Do you see this, or am I just full of crap? ;)

5 thoughts on “Writer’s Block: Is it all Just Crap?

  1. I’m 100% with you on this! “That’s not the same as not being able to write. That’s not being able to write well.” – spot on. Writer’s block, IMHO, is just a fear of writing poorly. But that’s what you have to do in order to write well — just get words on the page. I love your “what if?” method — that’s a great way to push through a “block”.

  2. I ditto the other Dana. As well, I have three blogs (that I can remember) and after a couple years just lost interest in them. That’s not what I want to write. I have writer’s block on them due to lack of interest – on my part.

  3. I totally agree with you on writer’s block but still think writers of fiction need to be fastidious enough to sometimes say, I won’t write today because I’m not really up for it and anything I do write will likely strike a contrived, forced note. If you love what you’ve written it will likelier get read with pleasure.

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