I don’t believe in writer’s block, even though, truth be told, I experience it all the time. My denial seems similar to the good folks who acknowledge they don’t believe in God, and yet live everyday in a world abundant with his handiwork. Its as if ignoring writer’s block–as if inventing “necessary” errands and projects to keep me away from the computer–will make writer’s block non-existent. Of course this is only a psychological game I play with myself and not a very effective one at that.
Because days like today happen. I can’t come up with a single diversion, except maybe to mop the kitchen floor, but I hate, hate, hate doing that. And yet when I sit at my computer, that cursor blinks mercilessly on the same line, the last line, that it has been for days now. I can’t come up with a single thought about story development. I don’t feel like I’ve hit a wall, but more like the well has gone dry and I need a good soaking rain to swell up the groundwater. Poor me. I can’t draw water.
And this makes no sense. I know exactly what I want to write. I know exactly how the plot develops. And I’m so far into the development of my story that I needn’t give much thought to character. All that is established. I feel like an architect/builder with a wonderful plan. No, with a house that is nearly completed. But today, I’m staring at my hammer and nails and can’t for the life of me understand how to use them. The analogy is silly. No one forgets how to use tools. Except a writer.
I’m an optimist. I tell myself that there must be a higher purpose behind my becoming creatively comatose. Maybe there is something I need to learn, see, understand, discover and maybe I need the time to do that before the story moves forward. Maybe if I push ahead, maybe if I force myself to write when my brain is flagging, I’ll only spin my wheels, waste my time. Some argue that a writer should write even when she doesn’t feel like it, the same way we often hear that the best time to pray is when a person doesn’t want to. But I don’t know. Some prayers are needless nags. Sometimes we discover prayers are answered if we shut up, stop nagging God, and listen. So I guess I’ll listen. Yeah, that’s it. I don’t have writer’s block. I’m listening for the muse.
But not really. The muse is an endearing and antiquated myth. And I do believe in being still, in knowing who “I Am.” I understand that my talent and skills–and yours as well, of course–are gifts from God. I do believe He waits to help me, to help all of us, discover insights that will assist us in our literary work, especially if our work can be classified as “His” work. And I believe any writing that draws people together, that heals wounds and celebrates redemption, is godly. So no, I don’t believe in writer’s block. I believe in reflection.
Have you ever tried to tell your spouse you were working hard when you are sprawled out on a bed in midday, trying to concoct story in your mind? I think that’s what I need. A dark room, some time alone, the peace to turn my spiritual nature to high alert and sense the direction I must take. Or maybe I need a beach and a hammock…