I have some serious writer’s block. It isn’t helped by multitasking, by sitting down to write and then reading articles about the current gun control hearings and how Liz Lemon has changed the face of TV for women. It isn’t helped by my rabbit nipping at my sleeve because she wants me to pet her instead of type. It isn’t even helped by that glass of wine I had with dinner (thanks for nothing, alcohol! I thought you were going to make me a better writer.)
I hate it when this happens because I have so little time to write as it is. It’s one thing if the work is going slowly, if I’m so into a story that I need to sit with it and think something through. But if it’s just straight up going badly, I’m miserable and pissed off. Do not attempt to talk to me; I’ll just redirect my death glare from the monitor to your face and you’ll be incinerated. It’s bad enough that what I’m writing sucks and isn’t coming together, but in addition to that, I’m wasting my own time when I have no time to waste. And yet there’s no way around it. If you write, you have to accept that sometimes, it will go poorly. You’re going to have a day or maybe a few days in a row where every word you put down feels wrong. (That is the day, by the way, that you will misguidedly start reading Zadie Smith’s new novel and cry over your bleak future as a novelist.) You will never have enough time to mull over your decisions and edit endlessly because at some point, you’ll have to get up and do something else, even if you have a bladder of steel and are willing to forgo food and even sleep to keep writing. I have done these things without really noticing when the words are flowing well, but when they are slow in coming, I’m looking for any excuse to escape. I end up searching around online for stuff. You know, just…stuff. I try to find the articles that I vaguely remember wanting to read from three days ago. I look at people’s Facebook feeds, even when I say as I’m reading, “Why am I looking at this again?” Sometimes, to my shame, I even hate-read certain sites just so I can scoff at the content. Basically, I try to find inspiration outside of myself when it feels like I’m typing instead of writing. And so now, here I am, being oh so meta and writing about how I’m having trouble writing. Awesome.
Does anyone else feel like they used to be more focused when they were younger? It’s like I’ve got advanced-onset ADHD sometimes. When I was 10 or 11, I spent hours researching the battles of World War II because I had decided I wanted to write historical fiction, and dammit, I was going to map out all the battles in a timeline that was constructed of actual calendars that I wrote up and filled out with the battles. Obviously my characters would know when these things happened, so I should too. Sure, it’s a bit weird that I did this, but it also shows discipline! And promise! And now, it’s like I’ve regressed at a time when I need the attention span the most. But this is the problem inherent in following creative pursuits – or any pursuits, really – as you get older and have more responsibilities: you don’t have enough time. You want every moment to count because you have so few moments. And there is the constant debate, the negotiation with yourself – and maybe your significant other – about where to spend your time: which project gets the attention? Which chore that should be done can be ignored the longest? How can you be successful at creating when you need a block of at least 30 minutes but you only have snippets of 10 or 15? And is it even worth it in the end? Are you good enough? (If you don’t think the answer is No, I hate you and your self-confidence.)
So here’s my new tactic: treat writing like I treat Krav Maga. When I go to class, I have to focus intensely and be only in the moment so I don’t get hit in the face. There is no time for self-doubt, I just have to block the punch. Of course, there is a lot of practice, a lot of repetition, and an amount of instruction needed to build the muscle memory to make that block. When it comes down to it, though, if you overthink it, you get hit. So my new plan as of right now this second is to just type. Maybe if I just ignore absolutely everything else, I’ll finally triumph over writer’s block.
I’ll have a bag of frozen peas ready for the inevitable bruising.