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Writers Block: Please Pass the Laxative

July 30, 2010

Writer’s Block?

Sure it happens. But I have this nifty little list of tried and true remedies.

If I anticipate writer’s block as one does an oncoming cold, the “wicked wordless wench” can easily be snubbed out within a few days, or, at most, a few weeks. Before long, my fingers would be tap dancing across the keyboard, the writer’s block dissolving like the tickle of effervescent bubbles from an Alka Selzer.

Besides, only losers believe in a ‘real’ Writer’s Block, right?

Yeah. Right. Can you say, “time for an attitude adjustment?” In the form of The National Novel Writing Month 2007.

It was the first NaNoWriMo I participated in. I successfully wrote a 54,000 word fan fiction (based on Luke and Noah from ‘As The World Turns’) which was well received by my legion of readers.

Psyched over my success, I took a well deserved break, deciding after the holidays I’d ‘go for the gold’ and get serious about becoming a writer. I remember pausing for a moment. It must have been a jingle bell and not the sound of fate laughing…

January 2008 turned the corner, shining down it’s promise of a great new year. I brushed the dust off my keyboard, knowing full well I was taking a giant leap toward my destiny…

And fell flat on my face.

But, hey! No worries. Remember, I have this nifty little list of tried and true remedies.

You see, how to handle writers block depends on certain factors. What day it is, what season of the year, the temperature outside, the time the block takes place, the alignment of the stars, whether it’s a bad hair day.

Also, I go to my pill-by-the-day box, making sure I’ve been taking my medication on a regular bases.

Other weapons at my disposal include exercise, regular scheduled daily ‘consitutionals’, vitamins/herbs, doing a mindless task like scrubbing the toilet, motivation by listening to uber-cool music, scarfing down comfort food, chain smoke while going over every writing file I had saved on the computer, basking in a week-end long Star Trek/X-files/Queer As Folk marathon, devouring websites on government conspiracies, going on a date with a couple bottles of Captain Morgan, or going over notes on another WIP (which gets the right side of the brain to switch gears, leaving the left side in a stupor for a while.)

Yet, in this instance, my inner Gomer Plye chanted, “Surprise-surprise-surprise.” None of the old stand-bys seemed to work.

I redoubled my effort. I endeavored to clear my mind by exercising, faithfully running through a monotonous routine of water aerobics. I listened to multiple motivational CDs, persuading me to breathe deep, center myself and approach this problem with a positive, open mind. I aimed for a goal of writing at least 15 minutes every morning. When that didn’t work, I made an afternoon effort. Failing in that, I struggle for a nighttime attempt.

Realization sank in. Writer’s block? Hell, I was in the dark abyss of writer’s doom!

The ‘thing’ dug deep into my psyche, refusing to budge. What had normally worked in the past failed miserably. My muse, held hostage inside an invisible force field, screamed at me in Klingonese for weeks.

Was NaNoWriMo to blame? Was this diabolical organization some kind of sick writer vampire? Did NaNo suck out all my creative juice that used to flow – oh so freely – through my veins?

Would I ever make it back to the world of the aspiring authors? Would I ever reach my nirvana of published authorship? Would Luke and Noah on ‘As the World Turns’ ever be allowed to kiss on national television without my help?

Time passed. For the next eight months, the writer’s block mutated into something my normal ‘B movie’ life had never experienced. I was lost in a no man’s land of deflated plot ideas with no ruby red slippers at my disposal.

Books? I bought the used How To’s in bulk orders off Amazon.

Reading fiction in my chosen genre? I devoured m/m e-books by the hundreds.

Workshops? I attended six or seven of them. Some were simple one day events taught over the Internet, allowing me the pleasure of sitting comfortably naked in front of the computer as I learned from the pros. Other weekend seminars required me to drive a distance. With eyes unaccustomed to daylight (or my body to clothing,) I sat on my travel aching derrière, properly attired for attendance, scribbling notes like an extremist author extraordinaire. Later, while surviving on boxed macaroni and cheese, I would reassure myself it was money well spent. I would beat the block and live to tell about it!

By August, I was a basket case. I was desperate to write. Desired to write. Craved, with every fiber in my being, to write.

Yet, the specter of inspiration eluded me at every turn, leaving me in a frigid atmosphere of discouragement. I became inconsolable in my misery, convinced my gallant fight against the dreaded writer’s disease was all for naught.

What was the problem? When would it end? And, most importantly, why did this happen to me?

One day, I despondently turned on the computer, wanting to at least live vicariously through other authors who seemed to have no problems. Soon, I began to associate again with GLBT authors and other m/m fan groups (thus cutting down my self-imposed isolation) Not long after, I found victory in the moment I wrote a 500 word response to a blog.

Over the course of four weeks, the familiarity of purpose, perception and perseverance crept back to my parched psyche. My confidence increased. Whatever demon possessed my creative essence and ensnared my muse exploded, liberating my imagination. With a heavy sigh of relief, my writing sphere drew together, healing my mind and my soul.

In retrospect,I still don’t understand the mechanics of what happened. However, during the time of burnout, a combination of these approaches became the wisest thing to do. To let go of the pressure to write, yet continue to stock my brain with healthy, self affirming beatitudes while feasting on the things that would eventually help me find my way back to the path of story telling.

And that nifty little list of tried and true remedies? Taped to the inside of my medicine cabinet door, with a few more items added.

{comic from Photos are public domain. Alka Selzer (c)}

10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2010 11:00 am

    Sort of a random acts of kindness to yourself when you least expected it. I like it. The only thing that works for me: Do the writing. The inspiration will come. Of course, Nike cut it down and made it pop in only 3 words (of course).
    Thanks for your humor and your honesty, as usual.

    • July 30, 2010 3:58 pm

      Thanks Sharon –

      I never in a million years would have believed a writers block could last r-e-a-l-l-y long (and to tell the truth, I though it was all in their heads.)

      Now, I know there are such little shorts bursts of it here and there, but it wasn’t until I experienced the big one for myself, I became a believer.

      And I NEVER want to feel that lost again.

  2. July 30, 2010 2:23 pm

    Loved it! Good advice and an excellent personal example of how the block affected you. Glad to see you kicked it, you’re an incredibly talented writer.

    • July 30, 2010 4:02 pm

      Well Ellisson, there were times there were I wondered if I would ever write again!

      I couldn’t believe what I was going through. I tried every desperate trick in the book – as I never had anything that went beyond a couple of weeks (which I usually blamed on my whacky brain chemicals)

      But THIS one – it was down right scary. And confusing. And maddening.

      Truly, I never want to go through something like that again. I like to be in control of my self and this experience was quite the opposite.

  3. July 30, 2010 2:47 pm

    Great post, George! I was right… you do understate your own insight! Just think of where I could have gone if I had tried (probably unscuessfully) to write my post after yours! 🙂

    • July 30, 2010 4:04 pm

      (Snicker) yeah, right!

      You still would have blown me out of the water! But thank you for the compliment. Keep it up and I might get an ego or something…

  4. July 31, 2010 11:55 am

    Wow! George. That was some severe case of Writer’s Block that you had there. The horror! I’m not sure about the sitting naked in front of the pc/not sure wife and kids would understand the whole “method” of the cure. That’s usually something that I only do while on Vampire Vacation! 😉
    Thanks for posting. It’s nice to meet you, by the way.

  5. Kris M permalink
    July 31, 2010 1:07 pm

    As soon as the notice of the post arrived in my email in-box and I read the headline, I knew without clicking that my buddy George had to be the author. I’m glad it isn’t just me that thinks he’s freaking hilarious. I was laughing so hard, after reading it, that I had my head down on the desk pounding my fist, when my hubby (Kevin) came downstairs. Kevin (who knows George’s antics – through my POV) automatically said, “Okay, what did George do know?” He knew it was you, though he thought it was an email. But still he has come to realize that I when I laugh that hard it usually is when we (Lucy & Ethel) are chatting in some method.

    Loved the post as always.. Blogging is definitely helping you come out of your turtle shell. You are showing that you truly are a funny and gifted writer. I’m glad that you joined the blogging world. It truly is at the very least a funnier sphere now.

    As always, three cheers to my buddy George for another great post and for making me laugh.

  6. July 31, 2010 9:57 pm

    Very funny and oh, so true, for those who suffer through obstipation of the emotional writing psyche.

    Love is the cure and the impetus for my block. Co-dependency is soooo 1990.

    Looking forward to more of your words.

  7. July 31, 2010 11:05 pm

    I used to chuckle when I heard about writer’s block and think “real writers don’t have this problem!” And then my friend Danny died, and completely shattered everything inside me. What hurt the most was that I couldn’t write. More than not coming up with ideas – I got physically ill if I sat down at the computer or picked up a notebook. It was absolutely the single worst thing I’ve ever been through. Writing wasn’t just what I did, it was what I was. My identity…and it was just gone. Poof. The voices in my head were silent, and it was driving me utterly insane.

    I tried everything everyone suggested – including many of the same things on your list – but nothing helped. It went on for several frustrating, heartbreaking months. And then one morning I got up went to the mirror and said, out loud, “Enough! This is no way to live! I know you’re in there, and you’re going to talk to me, or I’m going to stick something sharp and pointy in my ear and skewer you!”

    Of course, I wouldn’t have. And I have no idea what the actual “cure” was…but that night, I spent the entire time from 7 pm to 7 am the next morning writing nonstop, and came up with bits and pieces of 15 stories – all of which I’m faithfully working to polish and get accepted for publication.

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