by Kathleen Bradean
There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.
– Terry Pratchett
I always say, if you can’t think of anything to write, go meta and talk about not being able to write. Okay, I never say that. But I am having a difficult time writing at the moment, and I’m in California, so here I am evoking writer’s block as a topic.
According to legend, the lyricist for the 70s band Chicago was up all night trying to write a song. He looked across the room at the clock and saw that it was about 25 or 26 until 4 in the morning. I’ve heard that song maybe a hundred times but didn’t realize it was about writer’s block until recently. I still don’t like the song much, but at least now it makes sense.
I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.
– Erica Jong
I’ve been trying to write the next novel in my series. The first scene has defeated me. Maybe I expect too much from it for a first draft even though I know better. I asked other writers how they get past this sort of opening scene paralysis. Some said they skip writing the first scene or chapter until the rest of the novel is finished. This makes sense, because by then a writer should understand the bigger theme of their work, the tone, etc and how best to bring the reader to that. Others say they just write anything, knowing that they’ll throw it out later.
My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.
– Anton Chekhov
Another writer confided that many of her writer friends can not get past their first chapters. Ever. The pursuit of perfection kills their creativity. I’m not trying to be perfect. All I want is to know I’ve got it mostly right.
The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.
– William Faulkner
I’m a terribly inefficient writer. I’ve mentioned this before. I write to find the story and toss out the thousands of words it took to get there. I’m like Thelma from Scooby Doo, touching everything in search of my glasses. The difference is that she knows when she can see. I have sight, but have no confidence that I can create my vision. The first scene poses a question. The rest of the story answers that question. How can you even begin to ask when you’ve lost your voice?
From Kathy’s Song by Simon and Garfunkel
….and a song I was writing is left undone/ I don’t know why I spend my time/ writing songs I can’t believe/ with words that tear and strain to rhyme
How do you get past writer’s block? Do you believe it’s real?