So, I have a four item long to-do list for today. I’ve completed one item so far – purchasing a piece of equipment for my audio work.
Let’s look at that. I’ve done one, probably 10-minute task if I’m being generous, in…4 hours.
Sure, I can say “oh, but I ate dinner in there, so that’s time I couldn’t be working” and “at least some of that was RIGHT AFTER WORK and really, some de-stressing time is good for people” and winnow it down to maybe 3 hours of wasted time. But that’s still 3 hours, where I wasn’t working. Wasn’t writing; all of these tasks are writing tasks. Can I say I have writer’s block? That I haven’t done anything on my essay because I don’t know what I want to say? That I haven’t plotted out that blog because I’m not sure how I want to say it, and after all, it’s not going to be posted until tomorrow anyway so don’t I have time…?
Yes. I can. But that’s not actually what’s happening.
Writer’s block is the easiest fall back position for any writer. We also like phrasing this as “lost inspiration.” I’ve said this more than a few times. “Oh, I can’t work on that right now; I’m just not feeling the story.” This is, as I know it (and pardon the language), crap. Every time I think this, and then make myself work on it anyway, I’ve managed to be perfectly productive. It’s not a matter of writer’s block, unless the block is in front of my monitor and keeping me from seeing the words.
It’s procrastination, pure and simple.
I’ve heard more than a few people give the exact same advice on curing writer’s block – just write. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing, or what you actually put down, or if you keep any of it by the end. Just write words. Stream-of-consciousness the story for a page and then start into your character’s mindset. The trouble is entirely in your mind. (This explains why I’ve gotten distracted at least three times just in this paragraph.) If you get the juices flowing, chances are you’ll go farther than you expected. A good author friend of mine does this during NaNoWriMo especially, and it’s a trick I use as ML – if someone is having trouble getting word count, don’t push them for 1667 words. Ask them to write a hundred. Ask them to write ten. More often than not, ten/hundred was a more reasonable goal for their minds…and then they’d written two-fifty. That’s enough inspiration to keep going right there, and soon they’d be off and running.
I’m a champion at the defeatism, though. I’ve had one song playing on repeat behind my writing for hours, I keep clicking into other windows to type other things, and I know that I still have all these things that I want to do tonight. And if I don’t write these things in some kind of reasonable time frame, I certainly won’t be able to watch an episode of Supernatural before bed. (And do I love me my demon hunters.) I know what the theme is for my essay; I could at least start it. I have a little less than a week before I need to post it. The new blog I want to start really isn’t as scary as I think it is, and if I get it prepped today, I don’t have to worry about it tomorrow. This at least I’m doing, though I will never get it finished if I don’t stop clicking other windows. (At least I paused the song to focus?)
Very few times have I genuinely encountered writer’s block – just writer’s speed trap. It slows you down and frustrates you and means you’re not going where you want as quickly as you want. But the important thing is to keep moving. (Because if you don’t, that’s also rather suspicious to the cops, and you’ll still get pulled over and no one wants that.) Getting pulled over by the cops is the ultimate in actual writer’s block, and if you’re lucky, you’ll just get a fine and be able to sleep it off. There’s no sleeping off time in the slammer.
…I think I’ve worn that metaphor a little thin. *ahem*
In any event. See what “just sit down and write the damn words” can do? I was procrastinating on this blog, and while it’s taken me about half an hour to write it, I now have just about 750 words (as of now) done just because I sat down and went “okay, if we’re having trouble writing, you’re going to do a blog post about having trouble about writing.” And now here I am.
Writing you a blog about how I can’t write a blog.
If you’ll excuse me, I think I hear “One Song Glory” playing in the background.