Writer’s Block and Other Angst

Man writing with large pencil
From GraphicStock

My blog has been conspicuously silent over the past several weeks. I’d like to blame my writing inertia on the Taliban, or ISIS, or breast cancer, the worldwide epidemic of raping women, or suicide—all issues I either read about, talk about, or mourn over. I find each of these events so depressing in an all-consuming manner because they are so horrifying that mental paralysis sets in. I’m not trying to make light of any of these topics or others (e.g., school shootings, the Presidential race, human trafficking). In fact, I am so sensitive that I take these stories into my soul and wonder about mankind in general. How can one human being be so cruel to another human being?

Although these stories do get to me, I cannot use them as an excuse as to why I have stopped writing. Other excuses aren’t the reason for my hiatus either. Yes, we just had summer break. Yes, we took vacation. And, yes, the kids are now back in school (for better or for worse). No excuse. I have been able to write during these events before. When I’m on fire, I can write in a hotel room, carpool, and even during a church service (don’t repeat that please). Hell, I was even able to write during a hurricane once . Now, that is fortitude.

The truth is I think I have had a bout of writer’s block. (Gasp!) I want to write, particularly for this blog, but I can’t seem to find my voice or a compelling reason to write. The more I fixate on the fact that it’s been X number of days since I’ve written a blog, the more it just fertilizes the angst until my writer’s block is the size of Jack’s beanstalk—minus the gold goose, of course. I know there is a scientific name for this—you know, something like inaction breeding only inaction. I am no scientist.

So, what does a former teacher/professor of English and writing do? She googles (yes, now a verb) writer’s block to see if she can get unstuck. It is no surprise that I find a slew of books on how to deal with writer’s block. These are famous books by famous people like Peter Elbow, Natalie Goldberg, and Anne Lamont. They talk about their own problems with writer’s block and then offer solutions and writing prompts to get those wordy juices flowing again.

The funny thing about writer’s block is that writers find it so commonplace that they make jokes about it. I’m not kidding. Punch in writer’s block on Pinterest and you will journey to the land known as “Painful (yet funny) Subculture of Writing.” The new mantra for writer’s block is the following definition: “Writer’s block: When your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.” Humorous, yet there is a lot of truth in that because fiction writers often feel as if they have multiple personalities screaming insane thoughts at them. And, cartoonists like Charles Schultz (Peanuts), Gary Larson (The Far Side) and Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbs) succinctly add their amusing slant to this awful but inevitable experience.

People have “invented” items to help with the blockage of the pen. From Aqua Notes (water proof writing pad for the shower) to Magnetic Poetry in a Jar to perfume and lotions with a “paperback” scent, marketing geniuses are capitalizing on this sad state of creative affairs.

This one company has manufactured a soap and a candle to help. They claim, “Soap for writer’s block: Smells like regurgitated ideas and probably a vampire.” The Whiskey River Soap Company’s promo reads,

Tired of feeling like a bone-dry hack? So the wordsmith’s well has run dry? Try this specially-crafted Writer’s Block candle. If this candle doesn’t help you churn out regurgitated ideas and probably a vampire, I’ll eat my hat. It’s a fedora, by the way. Cool vampires wear fedoras now. Put that in your crack pipe and smoke it. Or in your book. Either way, you’re gonna need this candle ASAP. Your ideas are terrible. Cheap whiskey scented Net Weight: Approximately 17 oz. Burn time: 60 hours …. Product Code: HACKCANDLE

I love the stream of consciousness flair! You can even buy a magnet that reads, “Back away from the fridge. Good. Now go back to your desk and start writing.” Yes, overdoing it with food and drink is almost always a side effect of this illness.

I am happy to report that in researching writer’s block and sharing my findings with you, I have become unblocked. The ideas are beginning to flow…sometimes like a picturesque river and sometimes like a toilet. But, at least it is all flowing again.

3 thoughts on “Writer’s Block and Other Angst

  1. kate

    Hi Cara!!!
    I am reading this as I procrastinate avoiding my own writing! Have you tried The Artist’s Way. It’s so good, that it’s almost foolproof – me being the fool who is still procrastinating! Good luck with it xxxx

    Like

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