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Thursday, 10 March 2011

Curing Writer's Block


I have just been biting my fingernails and curling my toes. I have just been squeezing my Styrofoam coffee cup so hard that the few drops that remained in the bottom are now collected around my feet and soaking into the office carpet.
The reason for this frustration? An article on Writers block. I won't link to it here because I am not about to write a favourable review.

I've claimed to have writers block before. But usually I've had it when I don't want to write anything anyway.

"What are you writing at the moment?"
"Nothing."
"Oh really?"
"Yeah, I have a terrible case of writers block."

I was lying. I was being lazy and preoccupied and making excuses not to pick up a pen.

Let me share with you some of the suggestions given in the article I have just finished reading. These are, obviously, intended to get people writing.
There were 82 bullet points. I'll just comment on a few.

1. Get someone to write for you, pretending they are you.

Yes I can see the appeal of this. Feel like you need to write something? Can't be bothered? Well, get someone else to do it for you.

2. Invent a new form.

These suggestions are pointed at people that are struggling with the relatively simple task of picking up a pen. Do we really expect them to accomplish anything as labour intensive as inventing a new form of writing?
When people succeed in inventing new forms of writing then other, less magical people, write essays about them. It's a big deal.
This particular entry on the list actually appears at number 62. Number 61 was, Experiment with every traditional form. In my opinion that one is far more sensible. But if tradition just isn't enough for you, what the hell?

3. If you have an answering machine, record all messages received for one month, then turn them into a best-selling novella.

Genius. Why hadn't I thought of this? It couldn't fail, right? Right? Apart from the obvious lunacy in this, it also requires you to put off writing anything for a month.

4. Attempt to speak for a day only in questions; write only in questions.

You want me to write only in questions? Could you tell me what this will help me to achieve? Doesn't this sound a little trite? Like somebody writing a list of 'advice' had run out of ideas by number 76?
Finally, if I begin to talk to everybody only in question form, will I still have any friends left by the end of Day One? No? Then who is going to leave answerphone messages for me next month?

I could go on of course. But with every sentence I am becoming a greater and greater hypocrite. Because, you see I've just blogged for the first time in a long while.
Writer's block cured.