“Don’t ask a writer what he’s working on. It’s like asking someone with cancer on the progress of his disease.” – Luke Angel
I often read quotes by writers, hoping to glean a bit of what they think of the process, and more importantly, its place in society. All too often, I come across a quote like the one above. I’ve become convinced that writers say stupid shit like this in order to make non-writers think what we have is a noble cause.
So, allow me to ring the bullshit alarm. It’s not that hard. Contrary to what you may have been told, there is no blood on the forehead. In fact, let me go so far as to say, if getting the words out is painful … you’re probably doing it wrong.
Or, worse yet, maybe you’ve got the wrong hobby. (God forbid it’s your job.) It ain’t supposed to hurt, my lovelies.
Creating characters should be a delight. Learning about them should be nearly as exciting as meeting a new love, making a fast friend, playing with someone else’s cool kid (and sending them home when they get on your nerves).
Now, I’m not trying to insinuate that great writing flows from the fingertips like ink from a pen. Unless you are truly gifted, that is almost certainly not the case. It takes skill to know which words to remove, what holes to fill, how to sharpen the language and craft the story.
But getting out the basics of the story, that should be joy. It is a precious gift to close one’s eyes, open the mind, and let flow what you were given. Art, all art, requires that we can unblock ourselves, you see? Trust me, if you find the place you feel at ease, if you find the right music or tea or favorite fuzzy shoes, whatever brings you that place where you commune with your inner self, you will find the magic.
If you are a writer, I mean, truly a writer, you will discover that you write all the time. There is no such thing as writer’s block. The blockage has nothing at all to do with your ability to write. Rather, it is you blocking yourself. I daresay it is little more than self-editing. In many cases, your internal editor, if you listen closely, has someone else’s voice: a teacher, family member, another writer, or just a random hater. We begin the editing process before we even start to write.
“I’d write, but I have nothing to say.”
How the fuck do you know?
“I would write if I thought I could sell it.”
You won’t sell it if you don’t write it.
My inner editor hates writing things no one reads. But see, I don’t need wealth, or fame, or tons of readers. I, like many writers, if we’re honest, only need one. I had one, as Stephen King calls them, an Ideal Reader. Without her, I don’t know whom to write for. So, much of the time, I keep the stories locked inside.
But something occurred to me today. There is another Ideal Reader out there, and she would probably be pissed if I forgot her next story before I wrote it down. So, I’ve begun to write it.
There is an Ideal Reader for you too. It may even be me. And if it is, I’ll actually call you and yell at you if you lose my story. I will.
We see things all day. We have thoughts each moment. We encounter laughter and silliness. There is heartache and longing. A friend tells me of a personal tragedy that she feels it is now her time to overcome. Another friend sends me a link to the silliest blog on Earth. The book my mind is writing comes to the fore, insisting to be written. I learn of places accepting short stories and decide I must write a few. These are all moments – from God, from luck, from outside of us – that we must capture. There is life out there, and though all see it, we blessed few can capture it, keep it, make it more.
It is a gift, this writing thing. And gifts, my lovelies, don’t get blocked.
We, as writers, must learn to get out of our own way. It is easy to write, my friends. All that is required is to furlough your inner editor. There will be plenty of work for her, later.
Try it for me. Close your eyes, and let it flow. If you cannot type in the dark, then dictate to someone who can. They are only words. There is no need to fear. If you temporarily run out of ideas, relax. There will always be more where those came from.
That’s just your subconscious telling you to shut it, so that it can write more stories.
Writers don’t get blocked; they just quit writing.