Writing Anxieties: Oh crap, it’s an actual block

This past weekend I had hoped to write. Truly. I had hours to spare, and the story idea I wanted to focus on. The thoughts of that story turned like wheels in my mind.

But it didn’t happen.

I was blocked. Which, even though there are days where I avoid writing like the plague, was a very strange feeling. It was like the very idea of me opening up a word doc or a text file or anything to just start writing was just. un. bearable.

We talk about writer’s block as an inevitable trial of the trade. What form it takes varies from writer to writer: a lack of ideas; a multitude of ideas; the desire to write the words but they come out sounding just plain wrong.

Some of us don’t believe it really exists, and instead declare it offers writers an excuse for why they aren’t producing (or just plain laziness). For me, I have pretty much put it down to the latter – excuse making for not creating. Because I know I have the desire to tell stories and to write, but the effort that goes into communicating them beyond the space in my head? That’s another step entirely.

This is something I have been trying so hard to get better at, to beat back the desire to just do nothing, to not write, to while away the days thinking about my stories while being frightened of the work that goes into actually making them. In essence, I accepted the idea that writer’s block was a kind of fear of putting the work into it. Not truly being blocked.

I don’t know if it was laziness over the weekend, but the thought of opening up any kind of document on the computer and starting to write just made me freeze. I wound up pootling about online, doing nothing of any real consequence, and getting cranky at myself for doing it.

There are things I probably should have done. Gone for a walk. Just left the house to do more than shop. Sat in the garden with pen and paper and scribbled whatever the hell came into my mind. Another thought would have been rather than getting caught in the mindset that because I had decided that my project to work on had to be the one I had decided on earlier that week that it absolutely had to be that project to exclusion of all others. I might have gotten something done had I not been so committed to needing to write this particular one, not because I needed to tell it, but because I had told myself I was going to write that particular story, come hell or high water.

I wondered afterwards, on Monday, when I did finally open up Writer or Die and get 500 words out (which was just the kick I needed to get on with it), if I was also feeling a kind of post-release pressure. Body & Bow had come in the past week, and I’ve had some very lovely feedback from a couple of people. Which is fantastic, but me, being me, starts to think ‘well, since that did well, I better make the next thing EVEN BETTER.’

Yeah, you can see how that’s going to work. You can see how that’s going to get me tied up knots of perfectionism, of the kind that refuses to even attempt a start if there is no guarantee of the awesomeness of the end product.

Crumbs, no wonder I was blocked. :/

Where does a writer go from here? Reminding herself about her trip points would be a start. Probably writing them down somewhere that’s easily accessible to remind herself what they are when the toxic thought processes start wheeling, that simultaneously grind everything to a halt. Keeping a list of practical tactics to deal with the blocks when they happen would be another.

Another might even be shutting the computer and accepting that it’s not going to happen that day. Reminding myself that there is tomorrow, and that while tomorrow might be the procrastinators best friend, it is also there for fresh starts and clearer views.

As along as it’s not always tomorrow. 😉

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I should say that despite the block I had an otherwise enjoyable weekend, which included Karaoke, a house warming, and catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, so it wasn’t all bad by any means. If only the two aspects of my life could marry up better.