Homeschooling momsicles: This is a precious one. Wildest one, settling into the acceptance that homeschooling still means work, tries to get out of writing a film review of a documentary she’s just watched.
“How are you doing? How much have you written?” – “Nothing yet. I have Writer’s Block.”
Writer’s Block! Here comes the essential pretentiousness of “the creative”, or those who consider themselves so.
Imagine your builders, who are tasked (and paid per hour) to build your house, lounging under a tree for hours, wasting your paid-for time: “We have Builder’s Block.” Or your plumber, on the job at R500 per hour plus call-out, hanging around your garden smoking: “Sorry, got Plumber’s Block.” The orchestra sitting mute on stage while the audience gets impatient: “Sorry, we can’t play, we have Musician’s Block.” Or how about your chartered accountant not getting your tax return ready in time: “Sorry, I had a case of Numbers Block.” ‘scuse me?
How is it that writers imagine themselves to be the only ones of the creative (that will include architects, engineers and wedding dress designers) crowd who can lay claim to some mysterious “block”, needing “inspiration” to continue doing their, for want of a more illustrious word, job?
There was a glorious article in “The Daily Mash” that I linked to in the Book Club, about creative people and pretentiousness. Perhaps I’m just a bit too “plat-vloers” to have much patience for that. Violent battles about whether the staccati in a Bach piece were to be played on the string or off the string. It is a point of interest for the student, but battles?? And the haughty way in which some soloists (and their elevated audience) treat ordinary people, nose-down, totally forgetting that they may not be the only one capable of playing that piece.
I’m trying to remember the reference now, was it Julia Cameron, or was she referencing another person, perhaps even Zig Ziglar, who said something to the effect of, “I don’t wait for inspiration; I move the spirit by sitting down and writing. Inspiration follows.”
If anyone thought the process of constructing a story is a God-given process that just flows naturally and when it doesn’t, it’s because somehow the “receiving hole” got plugged up, they are in for a surprise. A decent story lives; and it lives on real food. (Try chocolate. It works every time!) It lives on what you put into it, and that depends what you put into you, in terms of fresh inspirations (experiences, go get them, Fluffy!), research (gee that can lead you places these days!), and observing people. A decent story does not fall out of the sky. Sometimes you have to be a bit of an engineer and sit and construct, instead of just inventing. So you’ll be using both your right and left brain hemispheres (we should hope, otherwise you’d be laterally disabled). And “Writer’s Block” is most likely one of three things:
- A sign that maybe you’re bored with that story, because it wasn’t such a great one in the first place, or perhaps simply because you have moved on (let it go!)
- a sign of tiredness (go sleep or do something else!)
- an excuse to try and avoid doing actual work on the story.
For me writing time is precious. It has to be squished in between everything else (not just for me but, I’m sure, for countless writers!), I often have a bad conscience while writing because I’m avoiding doing something “useful” instead. So writing time is laced with the delicious guilt of a semi-forbidden pleasure. There’s no time for “block”. If a story doesn’t work, it goes.
Those who truly write for a living (journalists, people who have to write up factual reports etc) know that when you’re paid for a job, there is no space for a luxury like “block”. You do what you need to, and finis. You have a certain amount of time to complete an article, and that’s it. If writers, who mostly write because it gives them pleasure, could adopt the same attitude to their stories, there wouldn’t even be a word for Writer’s Block. Think about it.