Do you ever wish you were able to produce creative prose every time you sat down and wrote? Like a job where you punch a time clock and go to work. You tap away at the keyboard for eight hours, finishing a few chapters, and then head home, satisfied that you accomplished something. Then you get up the next day and do it again, finishing a novel by Friday.
Unfortunately, writing does not come that easily, except for the few lucky ones. I think even they are lying.
Most writers have had days where even though they are ready and willing to get to work, there is no time clock assuring they will be productive.
Why do we suffer writer’s block?
There is plenty of advice on how to overcome writer’s block. Go for a walk. Read something inspiring. Bounce ideas of your friends. And of course, write. Writing prompts are my plan B when my well is completely dry.
I try those things. Those little tips and tricks work for the most part. But sometimes, there is still nothing. All day, thoughts bounce around my brain like a pin-ball during the bonus round. Yet, when I want to rally those thoughts into a coherent paragraph, nothing. Zip.
Why is there a block to the creative mind?
These are just my opinions and no scientific, or even un-scientific, research has been done. But after years and years of being a writer and knowing writers and reading about writers, I think they ring true.
1. We are lazy.
I think sometimes we just don’t want to write. Beginning can always be the hardest part. Like going to the gym. The biggest obstacle is just getting through that door. Just like working out, it can seem overwhelming, especially for the bigger projects.
2. There is nothing new under the sun.
Sometimes I think I have this super great, original idea. Then I realize it has already been said. 463 times. It is so hard to be original, when the original ideas have already been taken. It is not like working on an assembly line where it is actually a GOOD idea to repeat, repeat, repeat. Rehashing ideas into something new is the tough part of being a writer. Yet it is the beauty of it. Telling a story with a new set of eyes.
3. Fear and doubt.
This can be paralyzing. Unlike working for someone else whose ideas may suck, but you don’t care because it is not personal, it’s just a paycheck, writing IS personal. To the core. Everything that hits that page formed in your mind, and often filtered through your heart. Unless you are writing an unbiased technical paper or recipe, writing bears your soul. If you publish it, the world is now privy to your soul. Kind of intimidating.
Just like fear and doubt paralyzing us, pressure can keep us from writing our name down. The pressure way be something you created on your own, it may be a deadline, or just the pressure of staying current with your blog. No comments on this last reason, please.
5. Our lives are boring.
If you are uninspired, your life is probably not inspiring. Face it, life’s Pavlov’s response of alarm clock, go to work, come home, watch TV , mindlessly surf Facebook, go the bed, doesn’t exactly spark creativity. Rinse, lather, repeat is not conducive to prose worth reading about. If you don’t want to read it, you certainly are not going to be inspired to write it.
6. Words simply can’t capture what ever it is we are trying to say.
We fumble. We can visualize the scene beautifully on the projector playing in our head. The characters impress the audience, even make them cry. The story moves you to run to your computer or even the back of a piece of mail. Just get it down. Somewhere between the space between your mind and the paper, the words fall flat. The scene is completely unwordable (not sure that is a word).
7. Thoughts dissipate at the speed of light.
Other times, we know exactly the right words, but by the time we can find even a crayon to write with, the words have disappeared into some long-lost Bermuda world of great ideas. Never to be found again. This is why all the great writers suggest that you always carry something to write with. Why do I keep neglected this nugget?
If we just stare at the piece for another week, it will get better. Maybe the period should be a semi-colon. Maybe the character should be wearing a blue shirt instead of a green one. Is this sentence going to impress the socks off of my readers? Maybe the whole thing is just…stupid.
9. Ideas sound so much cooler in our head.
I remember I had this great idea for a short story. I had the conflict, the climax, and the resolution. I even had the character’s names picked out. My first real short story. Then I started writing it. And I thought, this whole thing is just…stupid. And it really was.
10. Out of practice.
Write, write, write. Funny how important that is, yet because of many of reasons one through nine we avoid writing. This only perpetuates the creative downfall. It is like avoiding going to the gym because you are embarrassed of your body. Get writing!
Can you identify yourself here?