Writer’s Block, Writer’s Flood

You’ve got to be ready.

As a writer, you never know what’s going to hit you!

 Kaaaaaaa-boom!

You were minding your business, quietly writing padding peddling along. Then BOOM! an asteroid came and threw you off your trajectory. It could have been a wonderful asteroid like in my case the birth of my daughter, or it could be something awful like when my friend’s father died.

It could be something totally boring like the onset of just plain wooden block.

No matter how, it’s happened. You’ve been thrown off your path, the one that your fingers tapping on your keys kept you tied to, and now you’re floating in space. You are catapulted up and then down, landing with an “AHHHHRGH” flat on your butt. You look around and the world’s shifted. There’s no GPS out here. Even if you’ve been lost in this maze before, that is far from comforting. You remember how hard it is to find your way back. There’s no way to snap your fingers or click your heels. You’re stuck searching for any guidepost, a sign you can use to get back.

It has to be said that sometimes, when you’re lucky, the wandering is not sucky at all but another adventure! You’ve derailed onto another fulfilling or fun path. Bravo! At least when you’re not writing you’re doing something else you love.

I tried that, I spent over 5K of my own savings to go back to school to become an interior designer. However, once out I realized that having a young child and a husband who was also self-employed was not—very much not—conducive to building a design practice. I quickly realized my job choice, at least at this time of life, was not doable.  And, worse, going back to school pulled me even farther from writing than I’d been when my daughter was born.  Then, time moved on my girl was turning 4, and I saw the truth: I was so far gone that I had no idea how to find my way back.

you’ve come to the corner of…

  and 

But I’m not easily deterred. I set my vision far ahead and put on my proverbial hiking boots. First, I did one thing I do best: Read. I paged through book after book about people’s transformation, growth and writing. I was inspired and I was moved. But still no sign back. Then in December 2012, the stars aligned, I took the right medicine, and I found the book at my local library’s New Book Shelf. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Each chapter I was transported closer and closer to my destination, until by the end of the book I found myself there again, this flowing threshold of creative possibility.

I was ready to write again, but darn if the whole world had changed. In the 5 years since typing my last period, there’d been a revolution in social media. It wasn’t going to be like the old days. Doing my diligence and trying to find writing gigs, there are a million blog jobs out there. I was overwhelmed and not a little confused. So, I decided to start simple with a little blog.

I started here reviewing Cheryl’s book and put my shoulder to the task, learning, studying, until after three faithful months of blogging SHAZAM! it hit me like another asteroid—the words, dreams, visions just started coming. Gushing. Flowing. All the while I had been hiking through the trees and all of a sudden I came to that gorgeous clearing ,the overlook where the sky opens before you and the horizon fills your eyes, and you want to cry “Hallelujah!”

  Fluttershy knows what I”m talking about.

So that’s the wonderful place my creative mind has been for the past two months. Writing in my cave, watching the dust bunnies pile up around me, trying to give my family enough time and, yes, missing my blog.

I don’t know about other writers, but I’ve found it very difficult, in fact terrifying, to try to do my creative work as well as this blog. Every time my mind has wandered to a blog piece, I’d jealously wrench it back to my book, unwilling to give one iota of creative energy to something else. I’m hyper-aware that block can rear up again.  I scan the trees for it every time I look up from a page, wary, belligerent. Stay away! I pray to the Muses, “Please let me finish my book!”

I’m so paranoid that I struggle with the superstition that even admitting this will somehow juju me with a malevolent, sapping spell.

And yet here I am writing my blog again. I’ve looked for sneaky ways to have my cake and eat it too, and I’m tip-toeing behind my book to write this. I pray that tomorrow, when I finish and publish this, I am rewarded and not turned into some creative pillar of salt. Ye of all faiths, pray for me too!

I want to keep up with you out there in social media land. I like our connection. Maybe if this one works, I can continue to sneak away from my book periodically, until I finish it. Finish it. I can’t wait to type those words at the end: FINI!

For now, Hello again. I’d love to hear from anyone who writes more than one project at once. I’d love to hear how you manage it.

Cheers,  bllu

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Why I Can’t Write

It’s looking like I could dedicate a blog to writing about why I can’t write. For now, I’m going to concentrate on the simple act of writing about writing about why I can’t write.

Whew! Confused yet?  Just stay with me!…

When I teach conversation or brainstorming, I say, “If you’re stuck, just talk or write about why you can’t.”

In other words, if you can’t think of anything to say, talk about why you can’t. Even if you have to write, “I can’t write, I can’t write” over and over. Even if you have to keep repeating yourself. Just keep going. Sooner or later, almost always, something new will emerge. Some new words will begin tumbling out.

So here I am. I can’t write, and yet I’m obviously writing… Because once you get started writing about what you can’t write, it works! You’ll be getting ideas out. Maybe not Shakespeare or Toni Morrison, but I doubt they began with perfect thoughts either.

We all know many legitimate obstacles than can keep us from writing. Not writing is so bloody easy and writing, even if it’s our favorite, most beloved past-time, can prove so damn hard to do.

Sometimes we have not nothing, but too much to say. This takes the form of information overload, the kind where you catch yourself at 2am bleary eyed from delving the webiverse that you’ve been surfing for—OMG—the past six hours! There was a commercial—for what I do not know—where a zombie-like person kept randomly spouting Wikipedia factoids. My brain can certainly feel like that.

A related problem, we’re presented with choices everywhere we look. There are news, features, ads, happenings. How to know which one to follow, which one is relevant? How to let the flow of information to gush past, blessedly unnoticed, while magnetizing the important bits to us? Wouldn’t that be gorgeous? Advertisers, unfortunately, are trying to accomplish that all the time—as if their product is the necessary part.

Because of this, we need the opposite help. We need a magic scientific algorithm to understand our unique needs and point of view. Then we could use that tool to bar what is static to us, while allowing what is useful to us onto our front page. Problem: half the time I’m not sure what I need to hear.

I often get caught up in the presentation of previews or posters for a show, or a summary of a book. I try very unscientifically to descry from the wording what I will like. Sadly, I’ve learned that is an unreliable method. There have been many times where my sketchy impression was proven wrong.

For example, there was the documentary about origami. In no way is folding paper interesting to me or in my life. But as I watched, I became captivated. Presently, I happen to be reading a whole book about being plastic free. I’m interested in the topic, but I was skeptical about the size of the book. How many ways can a person talk about reducing plastic? Yet so far I’ve enjoyed every page. Then there was the one about the sushi chef. Why—I asked myself—should I care about the life of a sushi chef? Interestingly, I found out why.

Did I enjoy this information? Yes. Is it something my grey matter should be storing? The answer, so far, does not compute.

Luckily, I have found a couple of places where I can find information that I’ve consistently appreciated. Rotten Tomatoes tops that list. The way that they throw all critics into a blender to form one number on a spectrum is brilliant. That clear simple computation is so comforting. I know that it represents many intelligent, cogent voices. Ah.

That is also to say that in any other part of life except movies (movies .5%, other life 99.5%) I still have the time consuming job of sifting information. It’s like a swarm of gnats on a hot summer night. We get more mail now in a week, I’ve read, than people used to get in a year. You can swat the information gnats, but it’s a waste of time.

Ah, time…

The modern favorite: Not enough time. Well of course not! When we’re spending so much time swatting gnats.

Now here is the good news. In all cases, writing about why we can’t write is an excellent start to writing.

This is because, one, I am putting pen to paper, or fingers to keys. Two, looking at obstacles is in itself very helpful. Thinking about what’s stopping me in my life gives voice to often unquantified issues that nag but aren’t clear. Diving into the why of why I can’t write allows me the space to study myself in a way that I often don’t, or can’t. It’s a doorway into studying –even recognizing things—thoughts, feelings, pressures—I might not have realized were there.

Ironically, by studying why I can’t write, I begin to write! Every word I find, every realization, even repeated, represents words on paper.

The gnats swarm, the information beckons. Time cruises by and people interrupt. But, if I take the time to, at worst complain and at best, set myself on a course for brain opening and revelation, I give myself that sacred time where I communicate with myself, and hopefully, my thoughts communicate with others’. This blog entry is evidence of that undertaking. Complaints, revelation–writing.