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Monday, September 20, 2010

Writer's Block: Real or Not?

    In my last post, I mentioned that I've had a hard time writing these last few weeks. I used to scoff at the term "writer's block" because it's kind of a pretentious self-important concept. Can't use a "block" as an excuse in many other professions, can you? There's no such thing as "editorial assistant's block" or "teacher's block" or even "ballerina's block". Actually, ballerina's block would probably be rampant if dancers ceased being told what to do. (We tend to like being told what to do, at least in the ballet world.)
  Often times, our seeming inability to write has more to do with distraction or lack of discipline than anything. Whenever I have a deadline approaching or a short story assignment due for school my creative juices flow incredibly well. It's only during my down-time, when I should be working on that project or proposal that the well of ideas dries up, and I can't remember any non "to be" verbs.
   These days I'm exercising a good amount of discipline, forcing myself to write even when it's lacking in quality and innovation. When I go back to revise I get completely discouraged and want to write even less and it's one messy spin cycle in the smelly laundromat of my brain. (See? There's one example of the kind of metaphors I'm creating lately.)

Do you think writer's block is a real psychological barrier or am I just making up excuses to make myself feel better? How do you overcome these mental roadblocks with no tangible incentive in the form of a deadline or a paycheck?

1 comment:

  1. I think there is an editorial assistant's block,a teacher's block and I'm pretty sure that I've experienced ballerina block many a time:). It's definitely a real thing. My "blocks" have always been my being being bound up in a perfectionism that is rooted in fear of failure, in pride and lack of faith in Christ's work for me (that I think you wrote about in one of your previous blogs).
    I can never find this quote, but in a music class that I took at MMC, the teacher read us a reflection on composition of music by Tchaikovsky...something about inspiration and how there is only a very small percentage of the work that he produced that he actually felt inspired before hand to begin writing...
    Your sentence, "These days I'm exercising a good amount of discipline, forcing myself to write even when it's lacking in quality and innovation," reminded me of that illusive quotation from the man Tchaikov:). Also, I believe that he is quoted to have said that his worst bunch of music ever written was the music that he wrote for the Nutcracker, haha. Nutcracker lovers across the world have payed much attention to that opinion:). And, lastly, in keeping with your perfectionism...I'm not sure why, but I felt so relieved when I found out a couple years ago that Chopin was a nutty perfectionist and that he once marked up his final copy of a piece of music just before sending it to the person who commissioned it. Just in case you are planning to be Chopin, or Tchaikovsky or Fred Astaire (another perfectionist nut:),though, perfectionism is definitely something to be tempered and all sorts of blocks are annoying you are definitely in good company. Besides your cool brain... you are a beautiful dancer by the by...