It’s flu season. That must be it. It’s the only reason I can think of that, with all my verbal spewage, my creativity seems to be all blocked up. I hope it’s not a result of too much cheese (in my writing, I mean). Whatever it is, it’s starting to become painful.
Oh, sure. I can talk a good game. “Here are all the ways I’ve gotten myself out of writer’s block before because I don’t really believe in it.” My tried-and-true methods have, for some reason, failed me.
I have writer’s block.
It’s not even that I haven’t been writing. I’ve been writing a lot.
As a blogging “intern” for a news-y/tech website, I do a blog post every day, writing for about an hour after research. This writing is typically informative or mildly analytical and doesn’t involve a whole lot of creativity.
Then there’s my everlasting job search. I spend hours working on cover letters, even when I have absolutely no motivation to do them. “Lack of motivation” describes pretty much every day for me in the past month. My average week includes 2-5 cover letters, so I suppose it follows, then, that I’m sinking all of my spare motivation into writing something that will summarily express my interest, show my qualifications, and sell “brand: me” to prospective employers. This type of persuasive writing is really tough for me because I’ve never been very good at selling myself. I’d make a terrible streetwalker.
(Please forgive any graphic wording, [borderline] inappropriateness, or obfuscation. I’ve got a migraine working itself up behind my eyes and I’m suddenly feeling kind of light-headed. I’m telling you…’tis the season.)
Then there’s this, my personal blog, which I really enjoy, look forward to writing, and am determined to post at least once a week, even when I don’t have any great ideas… like now. But really, after that gem that dazzled so many of you last week, you will certainly understand that I can’t possibly be at the top of my game all the time. I know you will, because you’re awesome. For the past six days I’ve been trying to think of a good blog topic for this week. I came up with an awesome idea. It involved my impressive [read: not impressive at all] artistic abilities. Then I forgot what it was. Really? I just bought a pack of Moleskines so that wouldn’t happen. Anyway, I suppose we could classify this as cognitive writing? Exploratory writing?
Then there’s what we’ll call “social writing.” This, for me, anyway, consists of the writing I do on Facebook and Twitter (I’m that girl who updates too much. To be fair, my Twitter bio says and has always said Banality Abounds, so I don’t really know what people were expecting there.) Those are usually pretty brief snippets of writing, though. Also brief, though relatively great in number, are the text messages I send. This is basically how I communicate with my closest friends: via “flash conversations.” That’s writing. I suppose I should also include the written conversations that I have on Gmail Chat several times throughout the week, rounding out the communications that allow me to continue to feel close to my friends in spirit, if not proximity.
I’ve also been spending a lot of time on LinkedIn lately, contributing to discussions in various groups I’ve joined, but mostly the ones about writing. It’s interesting stuff and I enjoy that kind of participation, but sometimes I find myself feeling like I *must* get to it as though I’m checking it off of my to-do list.
(This all might be my brain’s way of telling me to just chill for a few days so I continue to enjoy writing.)
Then there are emails. Mine are also something of a journal thanks to a series of communications I’ve been having with a childhood friend since 2006/07 when we got in touch for the first time in 10+ years. What a lucky girl she is to receive so many of my brain dumps. I couldn’t have just picked a more disgusting term if I tried.
Finally, there’s what I’ll just call straight-up neurotic writing. These are the notes I write for myself so that I don’t forget ideas or things I want to tell people. These are those letters I write with no intention of sending just so I can blow off some steam. After a series of incredibly aggravating events last Friday, I came home that night and, at 1 a.m., sat down and hand-wrote a seven page letter entitled “Dear Everybody I Know….” I could have kept going because I was really angry and had more to say, but I was passing out and I’d lost all feeling in my hand. When I woke up, 98% of what was bothering me the night before was gone. Those letters are kind of amazing like that.
When I list all the ways I write in a given day or week, I can see that I’m doing a lot of writing. Maybe this headache is actually eyestrain. We’ll find out in X years when I get a job and have insurance to go to the eye doctor again. Woot.
So maybe it makes sense, then, that I’ve just felt completely tapped out lately when it comes time to sit down and work on either of the novels. My creativity just isn’t there. I’m concerned because in the past I’ve always just written through it and it’s worked for me. After a day or two, I’d be back in it. That’s not working this time. It’s been a while, and I’m kind of starting to panic. First I ran out of ideas for my blog, then I ran out of ideas for my novel.
I’ve heard it said numerous times that if you give yourself a change of scenery, it helps to kickstart your writing again. Something about a fresh perspective. I was afforded the opportunity to get out of town for a few days last week, so I took it. I did my best to remain in the hotel and work on writing, and I got a little bit done, but not as much as I’d hoped. And I struggled with it. The weather was too nice and I was someplace interesting. I wanted to explore. I wanted to go for walks. I wanted to move into the used bookstore and absorb all of its words.
Part of me wants to say it’s understandable that I can’t even think of total garbage to write in my novel just for momentum’s sake. A bigger part of me knows that I should never let myself make that excuse because it’s a deadly one. I struggle in the middle of everything. This is probably part of my pattern. Still, when I opened up Scrivener tonight, I wrote 8 words. Then I stopped and had a discussion with a friend about the subject matter in a book I just finished reading. After that, I wrote 124 more words.
And then I thought, “Hey, I should write a really verbose and unfiltered blog post about how I spend almost my whole day writing and still can’t manage to work through my creative constipation with this novel.”