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Friday, March 8, 2013

Writer's Block vs. In the Zone

The scene moments before the Writer is carted off to the asylum

Writer's block is something that's been lampooned by writers everywhere, even in some Hollywood movies. Our intrepid hero "The Writer" is faced with an insurmountable lack of creativity, this Promethean weight that sits on their shoulders while they curse the heavens for the blank page in front of them. Their brain becomes this blank slate. Thoughts are stagnant and useless. Usually madness descends soon after.


All work and no play makes Jack go something...er, something.

I would argue that writer's block doesn't really exist, at least not in the way that we think. Usually this lack of creativity isn't really a lack, but yes, perhaps a stagnation. Or dare I say it...fear.

I have really only had some sort of wicked-subconscious, self-imposed writer's block, simply because my long and beloved project wasn't working. It didn't work. No matter what I did to it, it still seemed to fail. Anything that stirred in my head after that simply seemed to sit on the page, and no passion or interest seemed to be raging through me at the prospect. For a while I stopped writing altogether (though luckily the time was brief). Whenever I would poke at a blank page and a new-ish idea, I would turn away from it.

I lamented that I had no new ideas. I was effectively blocked, though I certainly didn't call it the Dreaded Writer's Block of Doom ™. All of the passion I had for coming up with new ideas was leeched clean out of me. Instead of calling it what it was—fear—I simply saw myself as uncreative.

It was fear. Fear of failing again. Fear of putting my heart and soul into something, and have it not be the shinning beacon of awesomeness I thought it was.

Sometime though, being "blocked" is the brain's way of secretly telling you that something isn't working. Sometimes it's that the bits of your thoughts that are buried underneath need time to sort it all out in a way that isn't so regimented.

Lists—right out. Diagrams—nope. Charts and pie graphs of plotlines—forget about it. Sometimes it's just a matter of waiting for things to percolate while the jabbering-nutty-creative side goes to work without you really realizing it. It's going out and listening to music, drawing, writing, running, jumping, climbing trees, and basically just letting time for your brain to sort things out by its lonesome.

And other times, that's just an excuse.

I've only recently defeated my brief span of writer's block by switching to something completely new, by challenging myself to write in styles I've never attempted before, by drawing pictures in order to make the stories more real, and finally by sharing some of my stories as I've never dared to do in most of my 15 years of writing.

Conversely now, I am currently In The Writing Zone ®. "The Zone" seems to be the antithesis of the Writer's Block. It's where you can't type fast enough for the ideas that are flowing out of your brain, all of your characters are (mis)behaving as they should, the plot road is as bumpy and awful for your hero(ine) as you imagined, and little plot bunnies are happily multiplying at a well-ordered rate by the roadside. Being in "The Zone" is what I imagine being on drugs is like. Or at least, it's my perfect drug. It's addicting.

This occasionally happens for me during my other creative pursuits, though not as often, and the "high" isn't quite as heady for me. The sad thing is I've never been quite sure what throws me deep into this excessive and obsessive writing phase.

Have you ever struggled with your creative endeavors? What have you done to overcome them? Let me know in the comments!

This post is part of the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, where I wouldn't know what to write at least once a month if not for their inspired topics. You the reader get to explore the same topic on different writer's blogs, from published authors to noobs. Up next is the always incomparable Gillroy Cullens over at Swords vs. Pens (I wonder which one will win when you have writer's block…?)

2 Comments:

At March 27, 2013 at 9:13 AM , Blogger Robecca Austin said...

Great post. I find a block in my writing occurs mostly in the middle of a project. By that time I've done a few edits and rewrites and fear of perfection sets in for the second half of the novel.

 
At March 31, 2013 at 6:09 PM , Blogger B.C. Matthews said...

Thanks, Robecca. I'm really more of a pantser, so I rarely if ever self edit in the middle. But I know what you mean about fearing in the middle...that's when the whole thing gets huge and a little out of control. Or at least that's the fear.

 

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