Tuesday, November 8, 2011

So this is writers block…. I don’t like it

<i>Writer's block is a disease for which there is no cure, only respite.  ~Terri Guillemets</i>

I spent the weekend being nagged by my muse until I could have sworn we were a married couple. Everywhere I went, there she was, reminding me I had goals to accomplish and stories to tell.  Unfortunately, I had about as much clue as to what the story was or where it was going as a rhinoceros does about fiscal responsibility and the dangers of overspending. My muse and I were at an impasse.

I’ve been working on my next novel for weeks, with what I can easily call a pleasing amount of progress. Plot, characters, word count, all ticking along happily. And then, wham. Zilch. A big black void of nothingness.  35,000 words and counting and it all ground to a halt. The muse was still whispering, the characters were still clamouring inside my head, and not one usable idea came to mind as to what happened next.  I’ve had muse failure before, where the urge to write simply fades away and I know I need to push through it, make things happen by force of will if the forces of inspiration are having a sick day. This was different. 

Every writer has heard about writer’s block, it’s a tale told in whispers, meant to traumatize the uninitiated and the stuff of nightmares for those who make their livings as scribes. Stories are told of how the blank page becomes a thing to be loathed, a mocking reminder of the author’s suddenly empty imagination. Even legendary writer Ernest Hemmingway, when asked about the most frightening thing he had ever encountered, said, "A blank sheet of paper."

I made no progress at all this weekend, at least not in any measurable sense. Come Monday I forced myself to write, delete and write again until after many painful hours, I had less than two paragraphs of redemption amid 3000 words of unmitigated literary disaster. What I did accomplish was to take another step in my development as a writer.  I faced the blank page, heard it mocking me, and eventually, I filled it with words. Not great words, not even the ones that eventually told the story I and my characters wanted to tell, but words nonetheless.  I’ll call that a victory.

Today the words came easier, the ideas flowed and I know that soon I will have this story told.  Good thing too, another few days of listening to my muse stomp around my head slamming proverbial doors and complaining about my lack of writing and I was going to start looking into either a musectomy, or an inspirational entity divorce settlement.