Writer's Block: A Forensic Exam
I'm writing about not wanting to write. Can I get a witness?
A forensic examination of writer's block. Here's how I take it
- My first task is
dusting the part of my mind that puts words on paper. It
usually hasn't been used in a while, for thinking (which I do
a lot of) is different from writing (which I do occasionally).
I find a cup of brisk black tea and background music helpful.
- Then I banish my
Inner Brat, the one who squeals "Don't WANNA! Don't WANNA!"
when faced with the project.
- Next, a gut
search for the germ of an idea. Usually a naked feeling,
huddled somewhere in my tummy, feeling neglected, with no
attached words. Attaching the words is my job.
- Following the
find, I banish the Inner Critic who opines that really, Mary,
you have nothing to say. The Critic gets alerts, and shows up
punctually when I sit down at the keyboard. The Critic cannot
be given the time of day.
- From there, I'm
feeling my way. I let the idea take me unexpected places. I
allow myself to type weak sentences or off-topic ideas.
- Next step is like
bread baking: I put the piece away for a day or two, like
setting dough in a warm place to rise.
- The bread analogy
continues - punch down the loaf. I pull out my work and
eliminate half the content as unnecessary, redundant or
self-indulgent. I eliminate the words "that," "very," and,
wherever possible, "it." Really. I get rid of off-target
paragraphs that stray from my point; I eliminate lazy,
non-contributing words that clutter my style. (Aside: I LOVE
- Another day,
another edit, unless a deadline looms.
- PUBLISH. Even if
it's not perfect. The art in this post isn't perfect; I'm
learning new software. I'm sticking it in anyhow. An
imperfect-but-published product encourages my heart; an
unfinished, unpublished product weighs me down.
That's my process.
It applies, with modifications, to any creative endeavor. My
advice? Push yourself past your Inner Brat, firmly dismiss your
resident Inner Critic, be ruthless with your editing and kind to
How does your
process work? I'd like to know.
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