Monday, August 17, 2020

More About Writer's Block... or Whatever it is

The debate about the existence of writer’s block may go on forever – and I know some people who will eternally defend their side of the argument. Some say it doesn’t exist, while other people insist it’s as real as anything they’ve written. The answer, however, doesn’t matter when… whatever it is takes over. As far as I am concerned, all that is important is the moment when I want to write and no words come forth. When my urge to create is stifled by… whatever it is, that’s when I need help. That’s when I need the cure.

In a past article, I mentioned how… whatever it is can come from being hung up about writing – either nothing to write, too much in your head, or the uncertainty of whether or not something is worth writing. That article focused on how the intimacies and internal processes of writing can get us hung up. This article is about the externalities that get in our way. Apparently, the world does stuff other than contribute to a writer’s life, and often it tries to take away from our capacity to create.

Take me for example. I have been particularly industrious lately, focusing a lot of energy into a bunch of projects. Between putting in several miles of walking every day along with other exercise and a wildly varied schedule, I am achy, a little sore, and honestly, exhausted. When I get home I feel the tightness in my back a little more, and it’s easier to think about wrapping up my last few responsibilities then taking a nap. It doesn’t seem like there’s time for writing, and my mind isn’t exactly in a creative place. It’s focused on recovery. Writing is not on my mind. It’s just not the right time – or so I think.

Actually, this is a good time for writing, just not in the usual manner. As I look at my screen right now, I get myself to write not by forgetting about my aches and pains, but by writing about them. In my mind, I think of the red serpent that is one of my neck muscles, slithering up my spine and biting on that nerve that sets off that tingling numbness in my fingertips. I envision the ropy knots in my back and the scraping bones that are my knees, and write about how they look in my mind. My wobbly body and sore muscles become my studies, not that I will write an epic tale or a grand story of recovery. I just use them to get my fingers typing and the writing process flowing. My case of… whatever it is fades.

As all of this pain becomes my writing, it can also prove therapeutic. Putting on some liniment for the evening is a wonderful feeling to write about. The mentholated chill soothing my neck could be a wonderful poem, but as I describe the sensation, it also helps me recognize the pain fading away. As I write about things, I notice them more intensely, and feel myself loosen up. As I stretch my legs, I become more tuned in to the tension flowing out. I actually start to feel better.

Does this sound kind of holistic? Possibly. However, as writers, when we write about something, we engage with it. We concentrate on it. Our mind explores the subject, discovering the details that others might never engage in, and we don’t think about the problem of… whatever it is.

Think about when a writer people-watches, studying the faces and behaviors around them. The slightest details come into full focus, how someone constantly touches their chin or says, “Well,” all the time, or how they rub their fingertips when they think. When a writer applies this technique to their own self, things become more vivid. And then we write about it.

I’ll admit it – I am still achy. There’s only so much magic that can come from typing, and I will need to use some proven ways to get rid of my soreness. However, despite an exhausting day, I wrote my commentary and felt good about what I have created. As a writer, that’s another technique I use to get past the… whatever it is.


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