Drowning in Writer’s Block?

This morning I felt an interesting mixture of inspiration to write (how glorious!) and pressure to write (not so glorious, but definitely motivational). I took the day off of work to make the most of this progress-inducing sensation and felt like the dedicated artist I claim to be. Today was going to be the day to throw down large chunks of my work in progress, and I couldn’t wait to jump in.

I moved toward my balcony, which over looked a community dog park, and began to plot my writing goals for the day to the tune of happy barking. With each entry of my to-do-list I felt a roar of motivation. By the completion of it I was ready to tear through my recent wall of writer’s block with the force of a freight train. I opened my word processing software and dove in, only to sink immediately.

Where did my motivation go? Where did the inspiration that kept me up late last night brainstorming sneak off to? Why am I getting so distracted now that I’ve finally started the actual process of writing? Why the hell is my dog so damn cute today, and why is snuggling him more enticing than knocking out this chapter?

All of these questions hit me with the same force as that proverbial freight train I mentioned before. My typing felt strained and heavy, my creativity felt labored, and my focus felt non-existent. Before I could rescue myself I was drowning.

Maybe you’ve been here. They say that writer’s block is frustrating, but I’d argue that there’s nothing worse than feeling the motivation slowly evaporate with each awkward and uninspired word that is written.

So, how do I escape this today? How do I salvage my day off and make it productive?

As I was preparing to give up I passed over a tweet that mentioned Neil Gaiman’s newest television series Good Omens. I had watched the first episode yesterday and was thoroughly impressed by it. Not only was it the perfect cure for my recent Game of Thrones fatigue, but it truly made me happy to see Gaiman’s story translated into a quality production. His stories have long been a source of inspiration to me, and they have pushed me to tell my own stories. With this in mind, I turned the show off and was prepared to let loose on my own work. That inspiration held through the night, and even kept me from a good night’s sleep, but then when the moment came it was gone, and so was my passion. For those few moments I was no longer a writer but instead a grumpy undisciplined quitter, and that hurt.

I remember Neil Gaiman said once, “If you only write when you’re inspired you may be a fairly decent poet, but you’ll never be a novelist because you’re going to have to make your word count today and those words aren’t going to wait for you whether you’re inspired or not.” I needed this today more than ever. I needed the reminder that I want to be a writer. I don’t want to be a pretender that only writes when the weather is perfect, the sun is setting, the moon is full, and love is in the air. I want to be the writer who makes his word count even when the sky is falling. I want to be the writer that creates beauty out of chaos and sows seeds of art even when the soil is infertile and unforgiving. Writing is all I want to do, so writing is the only thing I can do to escape this feeling today.

I grabbed my laptop and headed to my car. After a short drive through a still sleepy city I arrived at my favorite coffee shop and began to write. Maybe the words don’t come out as easily I wish they did today. Maybe my characters feel foreign to me. Maybe every word is created in a strenuous and exhausting process that makes me wish I had chosen any other career in the world, but still I know that I am hitting my word count and that does something to my confidence.

Friends, fight through those bouts of writer’s block and keep writing.

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