Contrary to the title of this post, I'm not going to talk about writer's block. I'm not going to talk about writer's block because writer's block doesn't exist. When my creative writing professor first said that writer's block is an imaginary obstacle invented by writers, I was entirely skeptical. But then I was relieved.
People talk about writer's block as if it's this unstoppable, joy-sucking force that swims along the stream of creativity from victim to victim. When writers hit the climax of all plot climaxes, they're sent tumbling down by the clutches of that fateful WB that plagues every writer. Sitting down with a nice cup of black coffee, ready to show the pessimistic world that you're not a failure at writing? BAM. No you're not. In comes writer's block, out goes inspiration, and you're left with a mug of coffee that you don't even like because who likes black coffee? That's right: no one.
I have indeed been struck by that long-dreaded but long-expected WB. I have been plucked from the Land of Meaningful Sentences and dropped in the Pit of Useless Drivel. And you know what? I think I allowed myself to be carried away. In fact, I may have willed it. Why? Because as writers we are taught that, at some point or another in our writing career, we are going to have absolutely nothing to write. Our fervor is going to dry up mid-plot, and we're going to have to ride the tails of crappy sentences until we find our way back into the groove. WB is the unavoidable doom that, paradoxically, makes a writer a writer.
Unless it doesn't exist.
I don't know if I've ever been hit by what I perceived as "full on" writer's block. Sure, I've gotten stuck. Sure, I've stared at the screen and willed the words to come to no avail. Sure, I've known exactly what I wanted to happen, but had no idea how to translate that onto the page. But never have I been so miserably cinched that I felt depleted. That's probably because I haven't been writing for a long enough time. It could also be attributed to the idea that WB isn't something that finds us writers, but something that we writers find.
This whole "WB doesn't exist" mentality isn't something I've been long acquainted with, so I'm still warming up to all of its possibilities. But think: We aren't bound to fall; we're just bound to stumble, and we have the power to watch where we're walking and make sure our laces are tied. Tying our shoes is something people don't think about anymore. Nowadays we've got straps and slip-ons and Velcro. (Wait, do we still have Velcro?) We've got fake laces and no laces. We've got so many different ways to strap on our shoes that the dangers that await a walker with untied shoelaces have been long-forgotten. I'm not sure if this shoelace analogy worked, but I went with it and now it's done. Sorry.
Although I'm now Team No-Block, I still get stuck, and I still want to talk about things that help me with Stuck-ism. My professor said that a key to overcoming this "writer's block" that we thrust upon ourselves is to play with words. Isn't that what we do anyway, as writers? Playing with words sounds easy enough. Find words that you like, he said, and write a sentence using that word. Such a simple task for such a large impediment.
I've mentioned before (and I'll probably mention many more times) that I have to view my stories holistically. Though that helps me in some aspects, it hinders me in others. I can get easily overwhelmed while I'm writing if I'm trying to imagine how this individual sentence fits into the entire story. So, rather than stare at the empty abyss that comes after said sentence, I just need to stare at said sentence. Said sentence needs some love and attention.
Some writers play around with their timelines. Stuck here? Let me just jump ahead seven chapters to a scene that I've been dying to write. Hey, if that works for you, DO IT. I, however, start to have mini panic attacks once I start jumping around in my timeline. I start feeling guilty, like I'm cheating on chapter ten with chapter seventeen. When I'm hanging with seventeen, all I can think about is ten. I'm assuming that seventeen is better before I actually learned everything about ten. But I'm weird, so don't take my guilt complex and apply it to yourself. Instead, time travel all you want! Just know that I'll be judging you with my monogamous eyes.
There are one-million-and-one ways to overcome Stuck-ism. But there's only one way to overcome writer's block: tell it to go away. Tell yourself that you DON'T have WB; you have Stuck-ism. Every writer gets Stuck-ism, because every writer is a human with human emotions and complications and distractions and doubts. We have a moment of dryness in our writing and freak out and tell ourselves we've got writer's block. Say hello to "Stuck-ism," the offspring of Doubt and Distraction. Then say goodbye, because Stuck-ism is easily dealt with. All it takes is three cups of concentration, nine gallons of patience, and a quarter teaspoon of determination. 'Cause where there's a will, there's a way.
Agent Corny, over-and-out.