WRITER’S MISERIES AND NIGHTMARES: WRITER’S BLOCK
According to Wikipedia definition, writer’s block as a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges from difficulty in coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years. Throughout history, writer's block has been a documented problem. (Wikipedia)
The condition was first described in 1947 by psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler. And it has happened to many professionals in the history of writing. Such writers include Adele, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Charles M. Schulz, Joseph Mitchell, Herman Melville and many others. It is normal to writers to some extent to open their computer or writing pad to discover that all that they have in mind to write are gone out from their head.
You sit opposite your laptop looking at the black page of the Microsoft word or Notepad; inspiration gone, you are lost in what to write. You end up closing your computer or jolter or writing pad without writing anything down. You stay for weeks, months and years and the inspiration didn't show up. You end up reading five books in a week but you have nothing to write, you are just there. What do you do as a writer? What do you do when you are blank in your head, no new idea coming to your head, no story, no experience to write about? What do you do?
Jeffrey Deaver once said this: “I’ve often said that there’s no such thing as writer’s block; the problem is idea block. When I find myself frozen–whether I’m working on a brief passage in a novel or brainstorming about an entire book–it’s usually because I’m trying to shoehorn an idea into the passage or story where it has no place.”
Maya Angelou recollects: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'”
Sometimes when I encounter this, what I do mostly is to take a little break from what I’m writing; it may be days, weeks or months. Sometimes when I need the work urgently, I’ll take a long way walk around the room or in the street, or perhaps, start jumping or dancing rigorously just to get myself on again. I also engage reading new books, see some captivating movies with brilliant story lines just like Game of Thrones, Avengers, Power and many others, I have my playlist of music I listen to when I’m writing so I can’t easily get distracted or get lost of what to write, Prince chike, one of my writers friend called it Juice. But it all depends on the kind of music you listen to. Mine are mostly Enya, Sia, Zayn, Johnny Drille, Allan Walker, Kygo, Gomez, Maroon 5, Ed shareen, Westlife, Boys To men, Backstreet boys, Michael Learns To Rock and many others. I let myself explore into the world the ways I can see it through their lyrics. I envisioned another me in another new world. All these are means of reloading myself when I’m lost or short of what to write. And by the time I’m done, what will push me to writing new stuffs will certainly come calling. I have learnt for so long that I don’t need to force it out from my heart or head, they come freely and effortlessly. I don’t need to force what I write out from my head, it has to come freely from within.
However, the truth of the matter is that every writer has been there. They have seen and looked at the blank white screen of their laptop without writing anything tangible, they watch curiously at the blank white screen and the throbbing cursor trying to find word but could not, it is not their fault. They hold the empty notebook and the pen poised to write but nothing is coming. The tools are there, there’s sufficient time and merriment and activities going on around them but the words to describe all these things refuse to flow. They refused to come to their command. Writer’s block can be a major disappointment for you as a writer of any such, but try using several systems and methods to at least get something
no matter how hard it seems or how little it is. Try as much as possible to work under a schedule- only write for not more than one hour with a 10-20 min break or more as your muse leads you. Some can write as long as two hours without breaking down while some, can’t. it all depends on you, how long you can carry it. Taking a break of 10- 20 min would be/may be enough to break the boredom and give you the freedom to explore on new ideas. Don’t just be intimidated by this block of a thing. Fight it with freedom of expression that might rightly come from within you.
Mark Twain said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez said also that: “One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily.”
Like I said earlier about what I do whenever I’m locked up in this mood, I think you should also try those few things. Some of them are really few time-tested methods to help you break free from Writer’s block or lack of ideas from any phase of it. I can tell you that from experience, writer’s block can come either through someone critiquing your work. I mean those that critique your work unconstructively. They break you and make you look worthless with your work. These set of people can bring writer’s block to you. And we have the other set of block that comes naturally. When you encounter this, kindly stop what you’re doing and take a break. Go for a walk, a long distance walk where you can sight many things like human activities and the singing of the birds. Some of the environmental ambience helps also, it might not work for everybody but it works for me. You can put down your work for an hour, a day or a week, and then come back to it with a new hope in you. From there, you can start writing whatever comes to your mind, free from any judgment or question. Hold down your inward
critic. You can rework and edit later when you are through with it, write it just as it comes.
Margaret Atwood once said that: “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”
Barbara Kingsolver once said: “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”
Meanwhile, always try to shake up the dust in your head like ashes. Eventually the elements and fragments will settle back down, but everything will have loosened and shifted, rearranged itself in your head. Finally, those confined and ensnared words will start spilling out itself one by one like someone just open a door for them to come out from their hiding place.
Basically, some people believe that writer’s block is more about our fear and perfectionist tendencies. And some said writer’s Block is a Myth but whichever way, from my experiences as a writer over the years, I know it is not a myth, it exist. In all, try as much as possible to overcome because you have a voice that people are waiting to hear out there. Don’t allow it to hold you down for long, try new things, new experiences and ideas to help you.
“I think writer’s block is simply the dread that you are going to write something horrible. But as a writer, I believe that if you sit down at the keys long enough; sooner or later something will come out.” Roy Blount, Jr.
© John Chizoba Vincent