Monday, September 30, 2019

Writer's Block?

What is writer's block?

For me? I don't get it, but what I do get, if you want to label it that, I see as other things entirely...than "writer's block".

I see what some call writer's block as merely, boredom, stress, or overburdened processing time. Essentially. I see buying into a belief in writer's block as a kind of victim mentality.

Processing time - When I write, my mind has a store, a library of where I'm going. I easily create as I write whatever it doesn't have previously available to draw upon. During the process, when I stop writing, when I hit that point at which I'm not sure where to go, it simply means my overt, external recording of what is in my mind has caught up to my processing, my creating.

At that point, I just need some time to catch up. It's as if I have a buffer in my mind and I've dumped it. So now it's time to refill it. Time for it to build up another set of concepts, scenes, and characterizations. Where fully formed thoughts have been used up and perhaps even the fundamentals, the building blocks of those things and orientations related to them have been used up.

IF you see that as being stopped, stumped, locked up, then I guess you could say you have writer's block. But isn't that simply a natural occurrence of the creative process? If it goes on for an extended length of time, and we all have different speeds at which we work, then it is labeled writer's block. I would argue at that point however, you have skipped out of normal processing times and moved into another issue entirely.

With time, you, it...eventually buffer back up. When I can finally write again...for a while. IF I write slow enough, I never hit that block. Or if you like, emptying that buffer. For some, they can write seemingly forever without ever emptying that buffer. But that's just an impression.

For others, it empties quickly, daily. Some of this obviously relates to the quality of what is being written. The closer one gets to being "genius", the less time it takes, or the deeper the meaning, or the more condensed the content, or the more prosaic it appears.

Part of what I do in the creative part of writing is to write myself into a corner, to set up multiple issues to be resolved later. Then try to creatively extract myself from that corner, to eventually hit a satisfying ending. Both for myself and the reader.

When one hits real writer's block, as I see it, if it's neither boredom or stress, you then have either written yourself into such a corner that you cannot successfully extract yourself from it or, you have so used up your buffer in a way that it cannot be refilled.

When that happens, then you either have written something that is fundamentally flawed and needs to be tossed out and started over, or you have written so far above your ability to extract yourself from the complications or the mess you have created, that you cannot resolve it, cannot finish it.

I ran into that myself in a way, in my as yet unpublished novella, "The Unwritten."

I took a year off from it and worked on other things. Until one day it suddenly hit me how to resolve the story and end it. As it turned out that was not quite true. I actually was simply seeing a path forward.

I followed it and it did lead me in the end to a viable ending. That ending however then led me onward to an even better ending until finally, I did end it with a satisfying conclusion. But I didn't see that as having broken if you wish to call it, the writer's block.

How do you correct that inability to complete a project?

Sometimes honestly, it requires dumping a story and starting over again from scratch. Some stories can become so convoluted and unresolvable, unfixable, that they should just be dumped. Or, you can strip them down to their bare essentials and work to a more viable ending.

Some merely abandon their work and simply don't stick it out. Hopefully, if they do abandon it, they keep it so that later perhaps, they may suddenly have an epiphany of how to complete it and still have it available to do so. Nothing is more frustrating to realize an ending, or an escape from the trap, only to realize, you have deleted the effort, destroyed the writings.

Whenever you find that your buffer is empty and is not refilling, not untypically that has to do with boredom or stress. Or something in your life is overtaking, subsuming your creativity. Stealing your mind, your attention to the point that you cannot write.

In those cases simply walk away. Change channels. Move onto another very different pursuit. Stop thinking about it. Take a break, Go on vacation. Have a drink. Go hiking. See a movie. Whatever it takes. However long it takes.

Sometimes I'll just research what I'm working on because the problem very well may be that I'm simply lacking information or knowledge. So I'll research a word, look up its synonyms or antonyms. Or research the concept or situation, scene or scenario or series of such things. It's merely another way to refill that buffer.

For some it's to go seek entertainment, or sex with a lover. Or to experience something creative, art, music or film, a play, a sports event, or whatever works best for you. Exercise is very useful as it supercharges the brain with oxygen.

Then come back to it later and try again, always keeping in the back of your mind that you do plan to return to it, to finish it. Because I find when I do that, my mind keeps crunching away on the issue or issues until it's resolved. It's a kind of perseverance you need to build in yourself if you don't already have it. My mind is always working on problems where I don't see it continuing on. I've found in playing a musical instrument that over time, even when I don't practice, I do keep getting better. It's a very similar thing.

For the most part, if you refuse to buy into the concept of writer's block, you may never experience it.

I have seen far more amateur writers, hobbyists, wannabe writers, who claim writer's block over that of professionals. To be sure, when you are feeling less creative or self-assured in your writings, they may not be as qualitative, or beautiful as when you feel you are in the zone.

Regardless, keep writing.

I find a hybrid form is most useful. I write screenplays, and plays, poetry and prose, fiction and nonfiction and even time-wasting posts on platforms like Twitter or Facebook. These are all different formats and jog the mind when jumping from one to another.

One might argue that I have writer's block on say a short story and then work on a screenplay, I'm getting blocked on one and simply moved to another.

One could argue it's a matter of semantics.
Find creative workarounds, think out of the block
I just don't see it that way at all, though. It has to do with processing, exercising one's skill sets. IF I go out on an obstacle course and physically run it, at some point I will hit a wall and need to rest, or sleep, or eat and then I can continue. For some that may be minutes. For others, hours. If you're a Navy SEAL, an Olympic athlete, or someone like that, it may be days even before you find you need to recharge.

Regardless, we all process and exercise at different rates and speeds and endurance levels. One needs to learn those limits... as young as possible in one's life...and how one works most efficiently, effectively and functionally. One needs to build those endurance levels up. And know how one works best in the creative field or perhaps in any field, in the most creative and functional ways.

So do I buy into the concept of a writer's block? No. I hope you can see now why.

Whether or not you buy into it is up to you. I just don't like feeling like I'm being victimized, or being a victim, of something I may very well have full, or mostly full control over. It never hurts to have tricks to find your way to productivity, no matter what the issue. And you just have to ask yourself what you buy into and how much you will allow it to affect you in a negative way. And how to turn that negativity into productivity. So...

Writer's block?

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