There are writers out there who amaze me in their ability to constantly and consistently produce good work. Their minds are a magic trick, their thoughts like a never-ending chain of handkerchiefs. Just when you think they’re empty, out comes another colorful idea and then another and then another. I’m forever in awe.
Not to sing my own praises, but I often amaze myself with my writing endurance. I write every single day. Sometimes it’s more work oriented (countless emails, perhaps a press release or a business-related blog post), but still it’s writing. In fact, in any given day, I do more writing than I do talking, which is saying a lot because I certainly know how to run my mouth.
But I have my limits. I’m only human. I’m not one of those fancy “writing machines.” (They’re called word processors.) And so I sometimes do find myself stalling as I sit in front of the computer, my cursor blinking in the middle of a stark white screen as if transmitting a pattern of Morse code that reads “S.O.S.”
On these rare occasions when I find myself passionless, my fingers hovering over the keyboard as if its a Ouija board, as if some spirit will move my hands for me, I get pretty down. “Just write already!!!” I scream to myself, which of course has the counterproductive affect of making me even more self-conscious. It’s like I have mental impotence, and pointing it out is just going to make me underperform that much more.
I’m going through one of these funks right now. I’ve been going through it for about a week, though these funks always crawl, making them feel much longer. I have to remind myself that I know I still have the magic. That pixie dust is still somewhere stored away in my brain (perhaps my sinuses…because that would explain all the sneezing). This month alone I composed three entirely new essays, edited two essays and rehearsed the hell out of an essay I transformed into a monologue. So maybe I need to cut myself some slack.
Look. Writing is hard. Art is hard. Creation is hard. Just ask anyone who has ever given birth. It hurts. Do you think you can do that over and over and over again without getting a little tapped out? Of course not. You need a break. Take some downtime. Refill your brain by reading, watching and experiencing. Change it up. If you’ve been writing a lot of non-fiction, take some time to write some silly ass poems or short stories. Find the fun and freedom in writing again.
As I typed that last paragraph, I realized I was actually giving myself that advice. Re-reading it makes me feel better. Man, I’m my own best friend. Why the hell am I paying a therapist when I obviously have all the answers?
Also, it’s a little ironic that I talk about writer’s block, and yet I just wrote this blog post. But truthfully, writing a blog post is akin to a painter scribbling something down on a cocktail napkin. It’s not a masterpiece nor was it intended to be. Composing an actual written work is an exacting science just as much as it is an art. It requires precision of word choice, structural intent and an unyielding editorial eye. This…this is just me ranting into cyberspace. But not to worry. I think I’m getting my mojo back. I can feel the old synapses firing up again.
Oh, and to answer the question I pose in my subject line: Is writer’s block a myth? The truth is writer’s block is an excuse. You can be tapped out, fatigued, mentally exhausted. And that’s fine. That’s forgivable. But otherwise, just shut up and get to writing. Write terribly. It’s better than not writing at all.