Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Special . . . Writer’s Block

“I don't believe in writers' block. Do doctors have 'doctors block?' Do plumbers have 'plumbers' block?’ No. We all have days when we don't feel like working, but why do writers turn that into something so damn special by giving it a faintly romantic name.”
(Larry Kahaner)

“Writer’s block: When your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.”

I like Larry Kahaner’s quote about “writer’s block”.  In his mind and words, there is no such thing as “writer’s block” . . . it is just a fancy romantic name that writers give when they just don’t feel like writing.  I appreciate the fact that he points out that other careers and professions do not have “blocks” that keep them from doing their work . . . and, I am thankful that they do not.  I am grateful that I have not gone to my doctor’s office when sick and been greeted by a nurse telling me that the doctor is out due to a “doctor’s block”.  As far as Kahaner, a professional writer and author, is concerned, “writer’s block” is just a fancy way of saying “I don’t feel like writing.”

I mention this because I have used the excuse for the past couple of months as my writing output has dropped significantly on my blog . . . only nine blogs in the last two months.  When I started blogging way back in April of 2011, my goal was to write ten blogs a month.  In the 46 months since I have started blogging I have average 9.5 blogs per month . . . I have written an average of four sermons per month in that time . . . and, I have written four newsletter columns per month.  In those 46 months I have written at least 17 pieces of writing.  Of course this does not count any of the other writing that I do for special services like holy day services, funerals and weddings, and community speaking engagements.  I would suspect that if I throw those into the equation, I write close to 20 pieces of writing a month since I started way back there in April of 2012.  Not quite a sign of “writer’s block” . . . but, ONLY nine pieces in the past two months on my blog . . . it feels like “writer’s block”!

I’d like to blame it on that romantic sounding idea of “writer’s block”, but the truth might be closer to “writer’s fatigue” . . . reality says that I have been pretty productive over the past 46 months putting out writing.  I do most of my writing for my blog in the evening after a long day at work . . . usually a two-hour period after supper and before going to bed.  Much of the time I have been dragging butt and not really wanting to wrack my brain for cute and clever or deep and riveting things to write . . . I just tired.  It is not a matter of not wanting to write . . . I am tired.  Yet, the truth of the matter is that I have written when I could barely keep my eyes open because I was so tired . . . no, it is not tiredness that has created my recent “writer’s block”.  The fact is . . . well, the fact is that I just haven’t had the inspiration to write . . . I haven’t had anything that piqued my interest in putting words onto the page.  Isn’t that the usual definition of “writer’s block”?

Maybe Anonymous has it right . . . my imaginary friend quit talking to me.  I miss my friend . . . my muse.  But, talk like that will get a person into trouble . . . get an appointment to be measured for a special white jacket with extra-long sleeves . . . or at least funny looks.  As an introvert I have never had need for imaginary friends because I find myself too darn interesting for my own good . . . I am my best friend.  I talk to myself all the time . . . just not out loud (except in the car when driving the commute back and forth from the big city for work—usually quite a profane conversation at that).  Nope, it is not the imaginary friend stonewalling me . . . it is not that sort of “writer’s block”.  Again, I just have not had the “ideas” . . . the topics or subjects have not been flowing freely.  One more time, isn’t that a part of what writers describe as being “writer’s block”?

I don’t know.

I have not had much difficulty cranking out a weekly sermon . . . and, some of them have been quite good in my opinion lately.  Nor have I had much difficulty in writing a weekly column for the church newsletter . . . those, well those are not quite at the inspirational level as the sermons . . .but, they are words on a page!  It just seems that I have hit a rut when it comes to the blog and posting something on it.  It has been nearly two weeks since I last posted!  It has got to be “writer’s block”!

It is not a matter of being lazy and not wanting to write.  I want to write, but I also want to have something to say.  Others have suggested that “writer’s block” is a matter of not wanting to be criticized by others for what is written.  I can assure you that I really do not care what others think . . . everyone has a right to his or her opinion.  There have been times that I have been criticized for what I have written, but it never stopped me from writing . . . after all, I am a middle-aged male who embraces the myth that the older I get the better I was . . . I am a legend in my own mind and nothing anyone else says about it really matters.  I write for myself and my children (My children who will get to sort through all of this crap when I die.).  Nah, this is not a “writer’s block” based on fear . . . I am too ignorant to be scared.

Author Charles Bukowski states: “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”  So . . . that is what I am doing.  I am writing about “writer’s block”.  All writers eventually do.  It is a rite of passage . . . a medal of honor . . . a kick-starter for getting back into the writer’s saddle.  Besides, writing is a discipline.  As a discipline it must be practiced, and for a writer that means writing.  Most of the writers I admire—like Ann LaMott—state that you have to write, write, and write even more.  It does not matter whether it is good or bad, you have to write . . . it is a discipline.  You write even it is something as mundane as “writer’s block”.  You write . . . good or bad.  That is probably why author/artist Dave Horowitz said: “To get over artist’s block, make shitty art.”  You will eventually get back into the groove.  Besides, if I had an imaginary friend, that is what my friend would tell me . . . write!

Despite my frustration with this period of “writer’s block”, I have not been complacent in doing nothing.  I have been reading a lot of books . . . to be a good writer one must read a lot of books.  Books provide starting points.  I have been silent . . . out of silence comes ideas.  Ideas are coming . . . slowly, but surely . . . ideas are coming.  I have started keeping a notebook for the ideas that have been popping into my mind and heart lately.  Again, these are the seeds for writing.  I have several ideas that are brewing in the rock garden I call my mind . . . there is the idea of carrying on the family name as we are expecting our first grandson from our youngest son and his wife in July . . . there is the continuing story of the oldest—the Prodigal—moving out of the house into an apartment . . . there is the prospect of our other son moving out in the next couple of months into his own apartment despite his disability . . . there are a few things I want to write about death as a friend has started a new blog focusing on death . . . and, there is always the wonderful nine months of the year they call “winter” in Montana . . . or, maybe even another post on “writer’s block”.

The inspiration is slowly trickling in.  Thank goodness I do not write for a living.  If I wrote for a living I doubt if I would have “writer’s block” . . . writer’s don’t have “writer’s block” because they have mortgages to pay . . . amazing what a little financial motivation does for “writer’s block”.  Whatever this has been . . . laziness . . . tiredness . . . fear . . . or lack of motivation . . . I can see the light at the end of the tunnel leading out of the darkness.  My only hope is that it is not an approaching train!  Getting smacked by a train would definitely create a bad case of “writer’s block”!  I feel my “second wind” coming . . . watch out world!  The irreverent Reverend is writing again!  Scary . . . isn’t it?

1 comment:

Clif Martin said...

I love this one real good. Before you got to the part about writing about writers block I was thinking "Come on John, you can't quit writing even if all you can write about is not writing." I must dig out mine about my Irish muse.