Daily Archives: July 9, 2010

On Writers’ Block

One of the things about being a part-time writer, full time employee, dad, maintenance man, dog walker and Minister for Fun and Recreation, is that sooner or later something has to give.  This week it was my writing.

Now, I’ve never really been a big believer in Writers Block, the name given to the syndrome which paralyses a writers’ ability to produce good copy, but this week, I’ve had a rethink on the matter. 

Pressing concerns, numerous interruptions, school holidays and a head cold have plagued what little time I usually reserve for my ‘fun’ time (scribbling, and researching).  But what really hurt was when I did manage to sit down at my computer desk, pen in hand, and monitor warmed up and raring to go, nothing happened…  it was a profound shock to be ‘wordless’. 

Now, in addition to a weekly newspaper column, I try to write 3 blogs per week, a few emails, some forum entries (Hi Ladies!), as well as jot down some more notes for one of my novels.  I have never been at loss for a direction, motivation, or words when it comes to writing, but this week I was. 

Worse, as I started to think about my column deadline, panic set in.  Now, I usually keep a couple of columns in reserve for just such an event, but in recent weeks I used them in order to focus my full attention on painting inside our house.  And this week, I decided to try a more topical, up to the minute subject, which added a little more pressure to my deadline. 

Normally I write about things or experiences that have amused, irritated, titillated or intrigued me, then add my own unique spin, a couple of quirky jokes and voila. 

Well, the topic certainly irritated me, and I had an angle, but I couldn’t wrestle it into the required shape.  Usually I do a ‘word / brain dump’ of about a thousand words, which takes an hour or so, then I start the laborious task of refining and trimming.  After 4, sometimes more, hours (over a period of a couple of days), and numerous edits, cuts, pastes, deletes, re-shuffles and re-reads the column is reduced to approx. 400 words, and when I am happy with it, I fire it off via email to the editor of my local paper, make the required note in an Excel spreadsheet, and the next time I see it, it’s on the printed page next to my grinning mug.  But this week…

But this week, I had to force myself to sit at my computer in spite of the runny nose, the non-stop ringing of phones, and sheer tiredness, and just type.  I really churned out some crap.  Well, crappier than normal!  And just as I was about to abandon all hope, inspiration struck, with just one sentence, and I was away.  Bit by bit I managed to build a column I was happy with, and after many more hours filed it away for a final review, which it will get tomorrow before I send it off. 

I have had a complete re-think about writers’ block, and am prepared to say now that ‘Yes, it does exist.’  I don’t have all the answers to overcoming it, but certainly sticking your bum in a chair and typing anything that comes to mind does help. 

Perhaps a time may come when the words will completely fail me, and my motivation dries up, but until then, I’ll continue to hammer away every day, regardless of how good or bad my scribbling is.  Failing that, I could opt for long moonlit walks along crashing sea shores… it might not get me writing, but it would be a pleasant change 🙂

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Filed under Becoming a Full Time Writer, Writing