Listen to the song created by the white noise on the wind from nearby construction. A smile from a stranger sends a spark to your budding imagination. An unintended touch sends a surge of ‘what ifs’ to run on a reel in your restless mind. Or maybe, it’s that precious moment between nature and man leading towards a great quest for you. The emergence of something brilliant, beautiful, and completely non-pedestrian. Your next MASTERPIECE.
It always starts out like that. Flashes of genius and then BAM! Nothing. Bone dry of what you call your creative mojo. The most amazing writers can attest that the creative flash or urge comes and goes and often quite intensely. Then you get to wrestle with whether or not your expression even comes close to what you were trying to convey.
“It’s a bad business, this writing. No marks on paper can ever measure up to the word’s music in the mind, to the purity of the image before its ambush by language.—Mary Gordon, American author
Whatever the muse, wherever the inspiration ebbs and flows, and however the journey ends up, if you are writing, YOU’RE FINE! It’s like writers carry on more internal pressure than one can possibly image. What’s most important is that we wordsmiths, dictators of diction, and storytelling sensei’s find our voice and our audience.
Too often I hear of artists that feel ‘tapped out’ or drained of their creativity claiming that dreaded phrase…”Writer’s Block”. Why do the words seem to dance upon the clouds like stars playing hide and seek? Other writing endeavors leave you downing a bottle of wine with friends that are fed up with you asking them to read your umpteenth revision of your writing. You’ve begun to question any talent you thought you had, and anyone’s compliment or commentary of your work is preposterous!
“The ocean doesn’t question where or how it flows. It just continues on, and so should we as writers. When it’s in you, you can’t dismiss or ignore it.”—Samantha Sierra
Suddenly, you’re off! Typing madly to get each iota of descriptive prodigy out of your vessel and onto, into, whatever kind of a receiver possible. Your pen and paper or laptop become both your plague and antidote. This is where the magic happens!
The NY Times had published a two part piece called “Writers on Writing”. It’s haven for writers to share and relay their process, a vehicle for insight and inspiration, and a place to discuss relative aspects and struggles of their craft. Here is what some of our favorite authors have to say.
Get started. Never mind the suspended tidal wave looming over your head awaiting it’s final crash. Repeat the cycle. You’ve got to find the proper channel to communicate your thoughts and ideas. Sometimes that means getting outside your head so you can find a new perspective.
“Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It’s a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.” —Paul Rudnick, American playwright and author
Capture ideas. Absorb and take note! Be aware of your surroundings because your muse or inspiration comes from unexpected places. People watching is one of my favorite ways to latch on and develop new story ideas or character descriptions. Take from what you know and what you like. You’ll be able to render your ideas quicker and more creatively. However, do challenge yourself to discover new facets to your writing.
Deal with your shortcomings. Realize that not every piece of your writing is going to be a special snowflake. You’re gonna have a love/hate relationship with most of what you write when you’re passionate about your subject.
“But what exactly was that it I was searching for? It must have been all that eludes us, hidden behind a veil so as not to be stolen, usurped and trivialized. Words seemed weak and pale.”— Elie Wiesel, American Jewish writer, professor, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor.
Whatever your particular setbacks may be, they are there for you to devise a solution. Instead of wallowing in misery about not being able to get 600 words done a day for your next project, take note of what you have accomplished and move on from there. No matter what, there will be unexpected issues that threaten to derail you. It’s up to you to transform these opportunities into writing assets.
Find your groove. Do what works for you and keep at it! For me, it’s always music. Modest Mouse, Bjork, TV Girl, Vundabar, The Walters or Frankie Cosmos. I don’t care as long as it sounds good and gets my wheels turning. I’ve even been known to go hang out at my favorite bar armed with a pair of headphones and a notebook. Trust in your process. No matter how strange it might seem to those around you.
“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.”—Maya Angelou, American author and poet.
WRITE! After cleaning house, binge watching Hemlock Grove, snacking, and selecting the perfect station on Pandora, it’s time to face the music. No more procrastination. It’s time to write.
Nearly all my searching has led to this very stark reality. Writers NEED time. Time to to delay, stall, and unwind in any way necessary to get those creative juices flowing. Once distractions are no more, the drought has passed, the feelings of inadequacy subside, and the rush of expression can no longer be held by the dam of ‘what ifs’ and ‘almosts’.
“If you want to be a writer, you have to write every day. The consistency, the monotony, the certainty, all vagaries and passions are covered by this daily reoccurrence. You don’t go to a well once but daily. You don’t skip a child’s breakfast or forget to wake up in the morning. Sleep comes to you each day, and so does the muse.”—Walter Mosley, American novelist
What is your writing process like? Is Writer’s Block a Myth?